FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
POLITICAL CARTOONIST TED RALL, FIRED BY L.A. TIMES AS FAVOR TO LAPD CHIEF CHARLIE BECK, WILL PERSONALLY DEFEND HIMSELF FROM TIMES’ ATTEMPT TO BANKRUPT HIM IN L.A. SUPERIOR COURT ON FRIDAY
Award-winning nationally-syndicated editorial cartoonist Ted Rall, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, will personally defend himself against his former employer the Los Angeles Times this coming Friday, July 14th at Los Angeles Superior Court at 111 N. Hill. St., Los Angeles. The hearing will occur in Department 74 at 9 am before Judge Joseph Kalin, and is open to the general public.
Rall is suing the Times for defamation, wrongful termination and other charges related to his 2015 firing and publication of two articles which accuse him of lying in a blog post in which he criticized the LAPD for a jaywalking crackdown that unfairly targeted working people and people of color. In his blog, Rall described being roughhoused and handcuffed by a LAPD officer who falsely arrested him for jaywalking in 2001, drawing an angry crowd on Melrose Boulevard. After Rall sued, the Times said that LAPD Police Chief Charlie Beck gave a copy of an audio recording that purportedly showed there was no angry crowd and that Rall had never been handcuffed to ex-Times publisher Austin Beutner. But, when Rall had the noisy static-filled tape enhanced for clarity, it showed the angry crowd and evidence he had been handcuffed. Despite being presented with evidence that vindicated Rall’s account, Times executives refused to reconsider their decision.
Rall has drawn many cartoons critical of the LAPD and several mocking Beck.
At the time, Beutner and Beck were political allies. Beutner had recently received the “Badge and Eagle Award” from the LAPPL police union for supporting the LAPD “in all that they do.” The LAPPL owned tens of millions of dollars of stock in Tribune Publishing (now Tronc), the Times’ corporate parent. The Times fired Beutner shortly after firing Rall.
Rall is the aggrieved party. His First Amendment rights were crushed by Times-LAPD collusion. His firing sent a chilling message to journalists in Southern California about criticizing the police.
High-powered Times lawyer Kelli Sager, a senior partner at a major white-shoe law firm, has filed three anti-SLAPP motions against Rall. California’s legislature passed the anti-SLAPP law to protect individuals like Rall from being harassed by litigation filed by deep-pocked corporations like Tribune Publishing. Here, the Times (part of a $415 million national media conglomerate) is abusing and perverting the anti-SLAPP statute in order to try to bankrupt Rall, a cartoonist whom the Times paid $300 per week. If the Times wins, the Court will order Rall to pay the Times’ legal fees.
This Friday morning, Rall will defend himself against Kelli Sager pro se. This is because Rall’s attorneys, Shegerian & Associates, have abandoned him at this key conjuncture in the case.
Note: If Rall is granted a continuance — normally a common courtesy — to allow himself to secure new lawyers and allow them to familiarize themselves with his case, he will not be required to argue his case Friday.
Rall will be available to answer questions and welcomes supporters and interested parties to witness the hearing.