First Amendment - Anti-SLAPP - California Constitution - grpub.net

First Amendment

People have a right to protest peacefully under the First Amendment. However, it’s illegal to obstruct the roadway if it prevents the passing of emergency vehicles. This month, the Texas House passed a bill that would increase criminal penalties and require jail time for people who block highways during protests if their action impedes emergency vehicles. The legislation is a response to the protests following the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by a police officer last year in Minneapolis. The House passed Bill 9 on a 90-55 vote. It now heads to the Senate, the Texas Tribune reports. Texas, like many other states, was gripped by protests against police brutality and racial injustice for the weeks after Floyd’s killing. Multiple protestors were arrested for offenses such as damaging property or blocking highways. In Dallas, during the fourth night of protests, hundreds of protestors were arrested on the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. They were ordered…
People have a right to protest peacefully under the First Amendment. However, it’s illegal to obstruct the roadway if it prevents the passing of emergency vehicles. This month, the Texas House passed a bill that would increase criminal penalties and require jail time for people who block highways during protests if their action impedes emergency vehicles. The legislation is a response to the protests following the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by a police officer last year in Minneapolis. The House passed Bill 9 on a 90-55 vote. It now heads to the Senate, the Texas Tribune reports. Texas, like many other states, was gripped by protests against police brutality and racial injustice for the weeks after Floyd’s killing. Multiple protestors were arrested for offenses such as damaging property or blocking highways. In Dallas, during the fourth night of protests, hundreds of protestors were arrested on the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. They were ordered…
Bentlee and Rodney Herbert, 8 and 5 years of age, went to school. So far, so good. They wore t-shirts. Fine as well. There was writing on their t-shirts. Nothing odd about that. Yet, the school’s principal, Denise Brunk, told Bentlee to turn his shirt inside out for the day, and not to wear it again. On Monday, Ms. Herbert went to the school to ask the principal what dress-code policy her son had violated, Ms. Herbert said. Ms. Brunk referred her to the Ardmore City Schools superintendent, Kim Holland. “He told me when the George Floyd case blew up that politics will not be allowed at school,” Ms. Herbert said on Friday, referring to Mr. Holland. “I told him, once again, a ‘Black Lives Matter’ T-shirt is not politics.” The school district had a policy, that “sayings or logos” on shirts or tops “should be in good taste and school appropriate.” What is meant by “good taste” and…
[A CNN story on the Rutgers law school controversy; the settlement agreement in the firing of Central Michigan University professor Tim Boudreau; and the views of Prof. Nadine Strossen, former President of the ACLU.] [1.] Profs. Adam Scales and Gary Francione from Rutgers Law were on CNN's Michael Smerconish program this morning, explaining why they think that faculty and students need to be able to accurately quote court cases, including when they include slurs—much worth watching, I think. The controversy at Rutgers continues; to my knowledge, the faculty hasn't decided whether to try to institute a policy against such quotes. [2.] I recently learned about a settlement in the controversy between Tim Boudreau, a Central Michigan University tenured media law professor (and Journalism Department chair) who was fired for accurately quoting "nigger" and "fag" from the opinions in two leading First Amendment cases, and from the record in another…
Columbia Global Freedom of Expression seeks to contribute to the development of an integrated and progressive jurisprudence and understanding on freedom of expression and information around the world.  It maintains an extensive database of international case law. This is its newsletter dealing with recent developments  in the field. ● One last reminder that on Monday May 10, 2021, UNESCO will launch its global MOOC on international standards on freedom of expression for judicial actors, developed in partnership with the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights of the University of Oxford. This free five-week online programme will be offered to a wide audience of judges, prosecutors and lawyers as well as other actors worldwide. The course consists of 5 modules with many notable guest speakers including Judge Stella I. Anukam (African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights, Nigeria); Catalina Botero Marino (Universidad de Los…
Prosecutors And Bad Press - May 8, 2021 - SHG
Anybody crying over an elected prosecutor getting bad press? One person is, and that’s the prosecutor. Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby. @FOXBaltimore’s blatantly slanted,dishonest,misleading,racist, and extremely dangerous coverage must come to end. Last year, they ran 248 stories about me and and my office, while WJZ ran 46, WBAL ran 26 and WMAR ran 10 during that year. The number of stories, of course, have nothing to do with anything, although spewing numbers without substance has become a commonplace argument to show disproportion, as if that, in itself, means anything. And to be fair, Mosby, another prosecutor who has reinvented herself to play to the progressive prosecutor crowd, wasn’t likely to get a good reception from WBFF, the Sinclair-owned Fox-affiliated TV station in Baltimore. So what? The Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office says it filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday requesting…

Anti-SLAPP

[To resolve the dictators’ asymmetry, Congress should adopt a Foreign Sovereign Anti-SLAPP statute and amend the FSIA. Courts should also interpret FSIA exceptions broadly, and reform the act of state doctrine and foreign official immunity.] My posts this week, based on a forthcoming article excerpted here, have made several arguments against foreign dictators in U.S. court. Courts need not allow foreign authoritarians to take advantage of access to our judicial system. At the very least, courts could change their approach to the foreign privilege to bring suit, act of state, international comity, and even the FSIA. However, yesterday I concluded that an anti-dictatorship standard was not administrable. The question, then, is how to remedy the original asymmetry—foreign dictators have easy access to court as plaintiffs but can take advantage of protective doctrines when they are defendants. Today, I propose four different ways to weaken dictators' access to…
I blogged a few weeks ago about a COVID-related libel and privacy lawsuit by former Electronic Privacy Information Center head Marc Rotenberg against Politico, LLC, Protocol Media, LLC, and Robert L. Allbritton and Tim Grieve (who run Politico and Protocol). One of the things I noted was the possible jurisdictional problem: The lawsuit is in federal court on a "diversity of citizenship" theory, which doesn't work if plaintiff and any of the defendants share the same state citizenship ("state" here including D.C.); and both Rotenberg and, it appeared, Allbritton or Grieve or both were D.C. citizens. A week ago, Judge Tanya S. Chutkan noted this problem, and ruled: Plaintiff brings this diversity action against two corporate entities and two individuals. However, the venue, jurisdiction and parties sections of the Complaint do not set forth the facts necessary to establish that this court has jurisdiction pursuant to 29 U.S.C. Section 1332. Plaintiff has…
[Foreign dictators have weaponized U.S. litigation to punish critics and newspapers, expanding the reach of transnational repression. It’s time to put a stop to it.] Foreign dictators are increasingly taking advantage of U.S. courts to pursue political ends. In just the past decade, authoritarian regimes from China, Russia, Turkey, and Venezuela have litigated claims in U.S. courts, often against newspapers or political dissidents that have emigrated here. While we may expect these authoritarian countries to face human rights or expropriation cases as defendants, these countries have surprisingly also filed claims as plaintiffs. Take, for instance, Turkey's current dictator, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. About a decade ago, Erdogan broke with one of his main allies, a prominent cleric named Muhammed Fethullah Gülen, who lives in Pennsylvania. This political break led to increasingly vicious infighting between supporters of both men and arguably sparked a coup…
I'm delighted to report that Stanford law professor Diego Zambrano (an expert on civil procedure) will be guest-blogging this week about his forthcoming University of Chicago Law Review article, Foreign Dictators in U.S. Court: It's almost impossible to sue a foreign government in U.S. courts. The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, the court-created "act of state" doctrine, and other common law immunities shield foreign officials and governments from most lawsuits. For instance, courts have dismissed claims against China, Cuba, Venezuela, and Russia over allegations of torture, detentions, and election interference. Yet, foreign governments have unfettered access to U.S. courts as plaintiffs. And foreign dictatorships, including Russia, China, Turkey, and Venezuela, have leveraged this access to harass political dissidents, critics, and even newspapers in the United States. These doctrines create an asymmetry at the heart of this Article: foreign dictators…
[Detective Vincent Cheung is suing Terrell Harper.] The case is Cheung v. Harper, and the video of the interaction is apparently this: The audio isn't great, but it sounds like a lot of personal insults ("motherfucker," "suck my dick," etc.) coupled with allusions to Cheung's being Asian ("soy sauce," "fucking Asian marts last week, how they treat dogs there, motherfuckers," "dog food eater," "cat eater" [?]). As is common with many such taunts, they don't make much sense on their own terms, but just seem like attempts to get Cheung mad. The New York Times (Jonah E. Bromwich) has a long story on the case, which includes these items: Mr. Harper said … the protest … was a weekly demonstration for transgender rights and "in solidarity with end Asian hate." … In interviews, Mr. Harper, 39, apologized for what he acknowledged were racist comments. He said the video had been…
I blogged a few weeks ago about a COVID-related libel lawsuit by former Electronic Privacy Information Center head Marc Rotenberg against Politico, LLC, and in particular noted the possible jurisdictional problem: As I've suggested in my earlier posts (on the disclosure of private facts claim and the libel and false light claims), the lawsuit by Marc Rotenberg—former head of the Electronic Privacy Information Center—against Politico and Protocol is likely to be an uphill battle. This of course raises the question: Will Politico and Protocol be able to take advantage of D.C.'s anti-SLAPP statute? That statute, like others in various states, allows early dismissal of lawsuits based on speech "in connection with an issue of public interest," if the court concludes that plaintiff's claim is legally unfounded; generally suspends discovery until the motion is resolved; requires expedited hearings and rulings in such cases; provides for immediate…

California Constitution

Fixing Appellate Delay is the title of today's DJ column by ... Jon Eisenberg, of course. Three months ago he "filed a complaint with the Commission on Judicial Performance about egregious decisional delay by three justices of the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Sacramento, listing 150 appeals adjudicated in 2018-2020 which had languished for at least two years and as much as seven years from the completion of briefing to submission for decision." He then "asked the California Supreme Court to transfer an additional 57 still-unadjudicated, long-delayed appeals out of the 3rd District for speedy decision elsewhere -- which the Supreme Court denied." Since then he has found 94 more such 3rd District appeals, "for a total of 151 as of Feb. 16, 2021, on top of the previous 150 listed in [his] CJP complaint."Has this done any good? Well, for one, "[o]pinions have now been filed in about half of those additional 151 moldering appeals -- a…
[at the West Contra Costa County Unified School District (Northern California).] From the Memorandum of Understanding, which I'm told was just approved Friday: Our tenets for spring reopening are grounded in strong pedagogy aligned with the Multi Tiers of Student Supports (MTSS) model: … 2. Targeted, high needs students first. Wholesale return to in person instruction for the full day for all students is not possible within the county public health mandates at this time and the social distancing constraints …. 6. Identified High Needs Students are the first focus a. Definitions i. For the purposes of identification for this program, "high need students" are defined by the district, based upon the roster of students on March 15th, 2021 as Preschool through 12th grade students who fall into one or more of the following categories: 1. Homeless 2. Foster Youth 3. English language learners 4. African American students 5. Students unable to access online…
A recent Northern District of California ruling has stymied Google’s initial effort to kill a lawsuit alleging that it collected private data on users browsing in “Incognito” mode—a setting meant to keep search activity private. Judge Lucy Koh dismissed Google’s motion, effectively greenlighting the class action, Brown et al v. Google LLC et al, to proceed. Brown’s Claims The plaintiffs in Brown et al allege that even when users elect to browse in Incognito mode, Google continues to track and collect user browser history and other online activity data. Specifically, lead plaintiffs Chason Brown, Maria Nguyen, and William Byatt complain that after they turned off the collection of their data in Chrome, Google tools continued to pluck their personal data. This happens, according to the complaint, despite Google promising consumers that they can elect to “browse the web privately” and stay in “control of what information…
Vimeo is a video hosting service. Domen is a “former homosexual.” He posted videos to Vimeo that allegedly violated Vimeo’s policy against “the promotion of sexual orientation change efforts” (SOCE). Vimeo notified Domen of the violation and gave him 24 hours to remove the videos or Vimeo would take action. Domen didn’t remove the videos, so Vimeo subsequently deleted Domen’s account. Domen sued Vimeo for violations of California’s Unruh Act, New York’s Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act, and the California Constitution. The lower court dismissed all of the claims. The Court’s Ruling The Second Circuit affirms the dismissal, relying solely on Section 230(c)(2)(A) (Domen didn’t pursue the CA Constitutional claim on appeal). This is unexpected, because many courts have recently used Section 230(c)(1) to protect content removal/account termination decisions. In comparison, Section 230(c)(2)(A) has languished…
In Valley Baptist Church v. City of San Rafael, (CA App., Feb. 26, 2021), a California state appellate court held that the "property taxation" exemption for property used exclusively for religious worship (California Constitution Art. XII, §3(f)) applies only to ad valorem taxes. Therefore plaintiff church was not exempt from the San Rafael's Paramedic Tax which is assessed on the basis of property square footage, not property value.
An Explanation of California’s Prop 57 - February 24, 2021 - Barhoma Law
For decades, criminal law was seen as a “one-way ratchet” in that, whenever changes were made to the criminal law, they almost always made the laws stricter. Typically, this is a function of high crime rates, and the political pressure lawmakers face from their constituents. Generally, lawmakers do not want to be seen as being “soft” on crime, so they continually propose increasingly strict laws to prove they mean business. However, California constitutional law provides citizens the ability to propose ballot initiatives. If someone can get enough signatures to support a ballot initiative, the entire state will vote on the initiative and, if it passes, it will become law. This is what happened with California’s Proposition 57. Proposition 57, or Prop 57, as it is more commonly known, is a ballot initiative passed in 2016. Prop 57 implements broad criminal justice reform as it pertains to parole consideration and juvenile offenders. Proponents of…