Thursday, June 09, 2005

Huntingdon Life Sciences v. Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (Cal. Ct. App. - June 1, 2005)

You've got to love it when people come to agree with you. Even if they don't seem to admit it.

Here's what I posted on January 10, 2005 about a case called Harron v. Bonilla, in which Justice McConnell concluded that the anti-SLAPP provisions did not apply because the conduct at issue was allegedly illegal:

"Judge McConnell['s] reasoning seems flawed. As to Bonilla, she holds that his speech is not governed by the anti-SLAPP provisions because he violated the Brown Act by disclosing information he obtained in closed session. But that fact (even if true) properly goes to the merits of the suit, not the applicability of the anti-SLAPP provisions. Just because your conduct is potentially illegal doesn't mean it isn't still in connection with an issue of public interest. . . . The illegality of the defendant's conduct does not obviate the anti-SLAPP provisions; indeed, if it did, a court would have to hold that even your run-of-the-mill defamation defendant can't file an anti-SLAPP motion if his words were in fact defamatory, since it's equally illegal to defame someone as it is to reveal official confidences. "

Now, six months later, on June 1, 2005, that same Justice -- in a different case called Huntingdon Life Sciences v. Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty -- articulates a seemingly directly contrary holding to what she wrote in Harron, and does so in language that parallels my post of January 10, 2005. She now writes (on page 12):

"Plaintiffs contend that this is not a SLAPP suit because they merely seek to enjoin illegal activity such as trespass. Mere allegations that defendants acted illegally, however, do not render the anti-SLAPP statute inapplicable. For instance, the First Amendment does not protect defamation, yet defamation suits are a prime target of anti-SLAPP motions."

And Justice McConnel says this without mentioning her seemingly contrary holding in Harron, nor -- even worse -- my name! (Just kidding. No pride of authorship here. Just glad the idea got across.)

Further proof that "Great minds think alike." At least eventually. Let's hear it for the marketplace of ideas.