California's Anti-SLAPP Law Saves Another News Publication From Bogus Lawsuit

from the good-to-see dept

In March we wrote about the unfortunate situation of two news publications in nearby Santa Clara, California in court in what appeared to be a clear SLAPP suit. The more established publication, "Santa Clara Weekly" and its publisher Miles Barber, had sued a new upstart, "Santa Clara News Online" and its publisher Robert Haugh. It seemed fairly clear that Barber didn't like the fact that Haugh had been criticizing the Weekly, and the lawsuit was just filed to make a nuisance for Haugh. It was notable that the complaint didn't cite a single blog post by Haugh or even quote him. It just paraphrased (badly) a bunch of clearly opinion statements from Haugh. Haugh got assistance from Ken "Popehat" White, who asked the court to strike the lawsuit for violating California's anti-SLAPP law.

Thankfully, the judge in that case has agreed and dumped the case, and has denied Barber's request to file an amended complaint on top of that. As of yet, there does not appear to be a full ruling on this, but congrats to Ken White and Robert Haugh for succeeding here. And, once again, this is a reminder of the need for strong anti-SLAPP laws. They help get rid of frivolous, censorious cases quickly, and they make the plaintiff pay the legal fees of the defendant (which also helps to deter other such frivolous cases).


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  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 16 Jun 2017 @ 1:45pm

    Any victory against a SLAPP is a victory for us all.

    …except, you know, the person who filed the SLAPP in the first place.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2017 @ 1:46pm

    Anti-regluation/FCC nut here.

    Hurray for THIS regulation!

    See! I do not hate all regulation despite what many of you claim!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Chip, 16 Jun 2017 @ 2:13pm

      Re:

      See? SEE? I told you so! I don't hate "all" regulations, reagardlss of what you Sycophantic Idiots say, or any things I may have said in the Past, such as "Regulation is always a negative, because it always stifles free market." I only aid that because you sycophantic idiots "made" me Say it!

      Every nation eats the Paint chips it Deserves!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2017 @ 2:28pm

      Re:

      I don't think anyone gives a rat's arsehole what *you*, personally, like or dislike. But your comments echo the position of so many hard party liners so you get to draw out the comments.

      That you had to post this to try and soften your position only reinforces that it needs softening.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2017 @ 4:19pm

        Re: Re:

        "That you had to post this to try and soften your position only reinforces that it needs softening."

        Actually the opposite. If someone has to post that, it means that the people against them are the hard liners and need softening.

        I have seen and example of this all before...
        Someone says they don't like Obama and its only because they are a racist. There is just no way someone would not like him for any other reason.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2017 @ 8:33pm

      Re:

      You cheered on regulation? By your own metrics, you just increased the demand for regulation by not fighting it.

      The irony, it burns.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 16 Jun 2017 @ 10:01pm

      Re:

      See! I do not hate all regulation despite what many of you claim!

      You're the one who claimed to hate all regulation and you scream at anyone here who suggests there may be some cases where regulation makes sense.

      Mayhaps you could treat others here with a bit more respect when they disagree with you about which regulations make sense instead of screaming at them in an insulting way that they're too stupid to understand that regulation is all bad -- because that's what you normally do.

      Yes, anti-SLAPP regulations are good. Yes, plenty of regulation is bad. There are adults who can disagree about why one is good and why one is bad without being insulting and making broad generalizations -- as you frequently do. If you did that, you might not have so many people mocking you so constantly.

      Be an adult, join the conversation.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2017 @ 2:52pm

    Of course vaguely worded paraphrasing isnt exactly a strong case. Even without anti slapp laws this case wouldnt have survived past a motion to dismiss.

    And no it doesnt in any way help your case Mike, but perhaps does fulfill some of your in kind promotion of your legal help.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Daniel Audy (profile), 16 Jun 2017 @ 3:39pm

      Re:

      The key is that it makes the complainant responsible for the legal fees so that it doesn't cost $10,000 and letting them disrupt your organization during discovery before you get to the slam dunk dismissal.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 16 Jun 2017 @ 10:06pm

    Just desserts

    We need to make a list of plaintiffs that bring SLAPP lawsuits and get bitch SLAPPed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    amee (profile), 29 Jun 2017 @ 2:33am

    re

    The intent here seems clear enough. It is to remove private actors and disputes from the reach of the SLAPP statute -- for example, claims that a company's products are unsafe, damage the environment, etc. One could disagree with the policy behind this, but it doesn't seem vague to me at all.

    Understanding that claiming that a law one dislikes is vague is a standard legal tactic and indeed can be an ethical obligation for a defense lawyer. nonetheless it has its limits.

    Judges have an obligation to try and understand what the legislature is up to, even when they don't like it. Claiming that one doesn't understand what it means when what's really going on is one doesn't like what is doing is a subterfuge to assert ones will and deny the legislature its right to legislate. Claiming that views different from ones own are irrational is similar. One can always avoid seeing another person's point of view if one is sufficiently willfully blind.

    As our expert states, Professor Volokh is entitled to argue against narrowing the concept of "public" in SLAPP statutes on any grounds he wants. But the language here communicates the intent to narrow clearly enough that it would be better to play ones hand and argue the merits rather than try to claim the language lacks discernable meaning. All language is somewhat vague, and this proposal is no different. But this language is a lot less vague than many laws.

    One is reminded of the vagueness challenge to an obscenity law that claimed "oral intercourse" was simply people engaged in conversation. Perhaps, but in the context of an obscenity law, very unlikely. Here too, the fact that words could be twisted to a bizarre meaning doesn't make it likely the proposal is intended to mean it. ⋮

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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