Rall v. LA Times: Read the Complete Transcript of Ted Rall Arguing Pro Se vs. the LA Times’ Top Litigator

As promised, I am making available here the complete hearing transcript of the July 14th hearing in which I was forced to represent myself pro se because the LA Times refused to give my new lawyer a continuance/delay so he could familiarize myself with my case.

Quick recap: I was the LA Times’ editorial cartoonist from 2009 to 2015. I drew lots of comics criticizing the police and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck. Having had enough of me and my cartoons, Beck asked the new publisher, a political ally, to fire me. The Times complied. They used a mostly-blank audio recording to say it didn’t back up one of my blogs, and published two articles characterizing me as a liar. A cleaned-up version of the audio showed I’d told the truth. The Times refused to retract or hire me back, so I sued.

The July 14th hearing was for a pair of anti-SLAPP motions filed by the Times in an attempt to get my case dismissed as frivolous and force me to pay their attorney’s fees. I was between lawyers — my previous firm had dumped me and my new ones were just coming on board — but Times litigator Kelli Sager refused a delay. So I did the oral arguments myself.

I was terrified. Read on:

Ted Rall v. Los Angeles Times (anti-SLAPP hearing), 7/14/17 by Ted Rall on Scribd

There were three anti-SLAPP motions in all. On June 21st my esrtwhile lawyer borked oral arguments on the individual defendants so badly the judge ruled against me from the bench right there and then. July 14th was the main event: motion #2 for the LA Times/Tronc and motion #3 for Tribune Media.

At this writing the court has not issued its ruling on #2 or #3.

What do you think?

How would you rule if you were the judge?


  • > How would you rule if you were the judge?

    “String him up!”
    (“Anyone got any string?”)

    “Lynch him!”
    (“Anybody got any lynch?”)

    Firesign Theatre – Waiting for the Electrician or Someone Like Him – 1968

  • Ted, I think your arguments were made admirably well.

    I hesitate to make an attempt to see the world as the law does (which is a political construct made by politicians) and venture a guess as to what brand of justice will, and can possibly be derived from law in this case.

    The corporate media is a commercial enterprise, not an originary political organ, in that it reports only to what the two parties find sufficiently noteworthy to publicly comment upon, and thus avoids taking positions that are not politically aligned with the duopoly and their corporate sponsors.

    This is likely, in my opinion, is the chief reason why political cartoonists are an endangered species.

    The corporate media functions as dual (both corporate) echo chambers of the only two parties (from their perspective) whose political positions matter; independent political opinion is a threat to, and exposes, corporate sycophancy.

    Political cartoonists are antithetical to the corporate media, and corporate journalists must envy these politically independent cartoonists’ operation beyond the corporate pale, the pale which they accept as an inescapable realty, just as a dog accepts the limits of his mobility imposed by a fence or a shock collar.

    The corporate media is envious of your relative freedom from political constraint, but lacking the ability or courage to do what you do, they hate you for your freedom as much as they hate themselves for their acceptance of the political and corporate constraints they themselves abide by.

    The sweetest smelling flower smells most foul when it rots.

  • Ted, I finally took the time last night to read through the transcript. You did an admirable job “pro per,” but it was like Tom Hanks in “Saving Private Ryan” when he used an army .45 semi-automatic pistol against the advancing German panzer. Fortunately, the air force came in and saved his ass.

    You held your ground the best you could, and hopefully your new legal team will be the “air force” with the ammunition you need to vanquish these bastards. Should the judge rule against you, I believe that your current team can overturn his judgment on appeal. Their expertise is at least a match for your opponent’s.

    There is a distinct possibility that the judge will recognize your argument that the victim has been turned into the “bad guy” in this case and that the system has been turned on its back. (I think that’s the term you used.) However, it seems to me that #3 (“Tribune Media”) should be dismissed from your suit. Your original counsel overextended, in my opinion.

    You asked; that’s my judgment.

    Hanging in your corner, I await further news.

  • This is a very interesting hybrid between a political speech and courtroom proceedings. The defense excels at creating lose/lose situations so as to either let wrongful but secondary claims go unanswered or get bogged down in the equivalent of a debate club on metaphysical questions.

    I second that Ted did a commendable job – still, I am in awe of how a good defense operates in the U.S. system No wonder they let OJ walk ;-).

    Here is a rough and somewhat cynical summary. I think there should be a logical flowchart or some other visual diagram 😉

    1) Defamation. (obviously)
    It’s not defamation since it’s all true and, anyway, they are free to write whatever in a newspaper article.
    No, it’s wrong on so many levels… Where did they even get the audio file from? If only we could listen to it, but we can’t yet in pre-proceedings. And, no, you’re not free to libel just because it’s a newspaper article, besides, there are clear guidelines which they violated.
    When it came from an official from the LAPD it came from the LAPD. When an expert said something, it is ipso facto expert testimony. It’s printed in a newspaper, so it is a newspaper article (which is constitutionally protected). We obviously don’t care one iota about ethical guidelines, this is a courtroom.

    2) Wrongful termination.
    My client – who is by the way free to fire whomever whenever for no reason – is under no obligation to enlist services of a freelance contractor in the future.
    No, none of this is actually true.And remember Uber, and look here, under staff listing…
    [aaaand here we go. Good luck explaining that there are few classical employees anymore to a judge who I assume is an elderly gentleman.]

    Bonus) It’s just wrong to slap people (who are smaller than big corporations, I mean, sheesh).
    Other judges have already ruled corporations can slap at will, so it is legal, clearly since corporations are persons before the law – and we’re all equal before the law – it must be. Besides, you’re taking so much time to argue about truth and content, it’s just quaint, what was that about an exact copy of a tape not being the same tape, so confusing.
    But we’re only talking about this level of detail because you keep bringing up…
    Therefore this is clearly a waste of the courts’ time and can be slapped away in pre-proceedings so as not to waste the time of pesky jurors who may not be trained enough to dismiss the obvious in favor of corporate legalese. Now turn the other cheek so we can slap you again. (And then turn the first cheek yet again).

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