Monday, September 21, 2009

Tichinin v. City of Morgan Hill (Cal. Ct. App. - Sept. 21, 2009)

It's been a good afternoon for Morgan Hill attorney Bruce Tichinin, who just learned that the Court of Appeal not only reversed the substantial award of attorney's fees against him resulting from the trial court's grant of the City of Morgan Hill's anti-SLAPP motion, but concluded that he also had a probability of prevailing on the merits. You can't ask for much more.

Though I want to add two points, none of which relate to the merits. First, the whole affair is disgusting. On so many levels. By "affair", I don't mean (at all) to refer primarily to the alleged affair between the city manager of Morgan Hill and its City Attorney, which Tichinin decided to investigate (on behalf of some clients) by hiring a private investigator to hopefully snap some lovely photos. I refer instead to the disgusting view of the innards of city government that this case affords us. Yuk! I'll leave the whole thing for you to read, but after looking at the morass here, I'd feel like taking a shower if I hadn't taken one just 30 minutes ago. For example, Justice Rushing says that Tichinin's client (a real estate developer) met with the city attorney and city manager and asked them "what it would take to get [them] to see it his way or get them on his side" -- get the hint? -- and when they demurred to his request, that's when the developer told Tichinin to get the photos of them sleeping together. Ewww. There's lots of other stuff -- lawsuits, retaliation, etc. -- in here as well. Let's just say that no one comes out looking clean. And I'd much rather see sausage being made.

Second, the fact that Tichinin wins is a testament to the Court of Appeal, and proof that you don't necessarily have to have a good appellate lawyer to prevail. Tichinin writes the brief himself alongside San Jose attorney Steven M. Fink. I don't usually call out attorneys for writing bad appellate briefs. But I'll make an exception here, because (1) I read it, (2) it's terrible as a matter of both form and substance, and (3) since Tichinin and Fink win anyway, they can feel secure notwithstanding my critique by saying "That just shows that Professor Martin's a moron and doesn't know a good brief when it hits him in the face." So let me just say: Ewwww. The two briefs they filed were not good.

So it's a double yuk afternoon.