The hearing dates for the LA Times’ anti-SLAPP motion against me will run over the course of three days: February 28, March 1 and March 8, 2017 at LA Superior Court.
These will be public hearings.
This trio of anti-SLAPP hearings is a pivotal point in my lawsuit against the LA Times for eight counts, including defamation, blacklisting and wrongful termination as their editorial cartoonist as a favor to Charlie Beck, the sleazy chief of the LAPD, whose pension fund was the biggest shareholder of the Times’ parent company.
The Times, part of a half-billion corporation named Tronc, is abusing California’s anti-SLAPP statute – designed by the legislature to protect individuals from deep-pocketed corporations trying to censor whistleblowers – to try to prevent me from getting my day in court. They are arguing that the First Amendment gives them the right to publish two articles calling me a liar and a fabulist, even though they knew they were wrong and solid proof had emerged that I was accurate.
In legal terms, they will try to convince the judge that my suit is a “SLAPP” (strategic lawsuit against public participation) designed to harass them and deprive them of their First Amendment rights. If the judge agrees, my case will be dismissed and I will be ordered to pay the Times’ legal fees to date, which they estimate at $300,000.
If the judge denies the Times’ anti-SLAPP motion, the Times can appeal once, to the Court of Appeals. Given how ruthless the Times and its lawyers have been so far, we expect them to appeal. If the Times wins the appeal, I would owe the $300,000 plus whatever additional fees their lawyers ran up in that stage.
The Times paid me $300 per week. I would be forced to declare bankruptcy.
Although in its filings the Times has backed away from its now debunked allegation that I lied and Tronc fired then-publisher Austin Beutner (he was behind my ouster), it has not approached us about settling. I have requested a retraction, apology, and my job back.
I will not, and cannot, settle for the usual hush money deal: no admission of wrongdoing, a gag order, they cut me a check, amount undisclosed. The Times set out to destroy me and my reputation. They allowed themselves to be corrupted by the police. They used me to send a message to Southern California journalists: don’t mess with the police. This is about me, yes. But, more importantly, it’s about freedom of an independent press and the reasonable expectation of citizens that what they read in the paper cannot be dictated by thin-skinned government officials with an authoritarian mentality.
The Times must be held to account in a public forum.
Even if I am financially ruined, I will never regret the difficult decision to defend myself against this vicious corporation.
It seems obvious that the Times is pulling out all the stops to prevent this case from coming to court. They know that if a jury hears the facts of the case, they will probably lose. That’s why they’re stalling, resorting to abusive legal tactics like the anti-SLAPP motion and their move to force me to post $75,000 cash bond just to continue. Thanks to the amazing people who raised that bond and who have supported me throughout this important case, however, I remain confident that we will prevail in anti-SLAPP, at trial, and the future appeals to which the defendants plan to subject the court system.
For a quick overview of the case, click here.
I will not sell out.