Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Freedom Communications v. Superior Court (Cal. Ct. App. - Sept. 30, 2008)

Talk about speedy justice.

Freedom Communications (i.e., the Orange County Register) is being sued in a wage-and-hour class action by its newspaper carriers. Ten days before the trial, counsel for plaintiffs seeks an ex parte order that precludes the O.C. Register from reporting about the trial or other things that might potentially influence jurors. The trial court denies the request, but sua sponte enters an order that, in the midst of precluding excluding witnesses from attending trial except during their own testimony, also prevents the O.C.R. from reporting on the trial testimony of witnesses during trial.

On Wednesday, September 24th, Freedom files a writ with the Court of Appeal. The next day, Thursday, the Court requests that an informal opposition (if any) be filed by noon on Friday. At 12:13 p.m. on Friday (!), plaintiffs do so. Within that same 48 hour period, Freedom has also got an amicus brief filed by the California Newspaper Publishers Association, which files its proposed brief (and application) on Friday.

During the afternoon on Monday, September 29th, the Court of Appeal (1) denies the application to file an amicus brief, and (2) issues a published per curiam opinion that elects to give plenary consideration to -- and grants -- the writ, holding that the court's order was an obviously invalid prior restraint.

That's not all. Late that same day -- though apparently published only the next morning -- the Court of Appeal realizes that they had forgotten to add a line in the opinion, and sua sponte adds the following to the end of the opinion: “The Register is entitled to its costs in this proceeding.”

Who says justice is invariably slow?