The California Court of Appeal on Los Angeles has decided that I deserved a lump of coal this holiday season.￼
You may recall that the California state Supreme Court remanded my case against the LA Times to the Court of Appeal earlier this year. That decision resulted in part from the state Supreme Court’s decision in favor of the plaintiff in another defamation and wrongful termination case, Wilson v. CNN.￼ Neither Wilson nor I have seen our day in court. We were still trying to get past California’s anti-SLAPP statute so we can pursue our claims. Wilson prevailed. I am still fighting.
Getting heard by the California Supreme Court is extremely unusual.￼ So we were lucky there. Once heard, the remand procedure is standard.￼
The Court of Appeal was supposed to reconsider my case from scratch, in light of Wilson.￼ California courts have been rolling back corporate and media defendants abuses of the anti-SLAPP statute. Wilson continued this trend.￼
Unsurprisingly, and pretty much as expected, the Court of Appeal doubled down on its previous decision￼ against me, ordering me to pay the LA Times hundreds of thousands of dollars for their legal fees.￼ The LA Times is owned by multibillionaire biotechnology entrepreneur Dr. Pat ￼Soon-Shiong. Another defendant in my case is Austin Beutner, a multibillionaire hedge fund manager, fired former LA Times publisher and currently the superintendent of LA schools.￼
The LA Times paid me $300 a week. Then, in 2015, they fired me as a favor to disgraced former LAPD Chief Charlie Beck.
Seven leading First Amendment and free speech organizations have filed amicus letters supporting me against the LA Times:
- Association of American Editorial Cartoonists
- Cartoonists Rights Network International
- Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
- Index on Censorship UK
- National Coalition Against Censorship
- National Writers Union
- Project Censored
As anticipated, we will now repetition the California Supreme Court.
If the court agrees to hear my case and rules in my favor, we will finally begin discovery.
If not, my case will be dismissed and I will face a judgment of roughly $1 million for having had the temerity to defend myself against the willful defamation published by the LA Times as a favor to the police, which owned them at the time￼￼.
Reading the latest decision, it’s hard not to conclude that these decisions so far are the result of corruption within the city of Los Angeles at the highest levels of city government, the media and the police rather than careful legal analysis. The court is ignoring the law and does not appear to have read my briefs.￼
The California Supreme Court is my last hope.￼
It’s also the last hope for press freedom in California. If the Court of Appeal ruling stands, it will be next to impossible for any employee of a media organization to hold media organizations accountable for any kind of wrongdoing, including race and sex discrimination.￼