Jeff Lewis files Opening Brief in First Amendment Appeal Challenging Misuse of California’s Anti-Harassment Statute, Code of Civil Procedure, Section 527.6

Jeff Lewis is representing a party restrained under California’s Civil Harassment Restraining statute, Code of Civil Procedure, section 527.6. The appeal is now pending against personal injury attorney Dan Dunbar in the second District Court of Appeal. Section 527.6 was intended to protect victims of violent stalking but in the case of Dan Dunbar, the law was misused to prevent the restrained party from speaking the truth about criminal drug convictions and a jail sentence imposed upon Palos Verdes Estates resident Cindy Dunbar. The order issued by Judge Gary Tanaka is an unlawful prior restraint in violation of the restrained party’s First Amendment rights because it purports to restrict him from speaking or writing truthfully about the drug convictions and nursing license surrender proceedings involving Dan Dunbar‘s wife, Cynthia Dunbar. Jeff Lewis agreed to represent the restrained party in this case because he has witnessed a trend of increased restraining orders issued not to prevent violence but instead to silence defendants or to improperly restrain persons who have not committed or threatened violence or harassment. You can access the brief filed in this case here.

Update: We won!

California’s Civil Harassment statute, Code of Civil Procedure section 527.6 provides a framework for people truly victimized to obtain an injunction against credible, actual threats of violence or true “harassment” (as legally, distinctly defined by Section 527.6). Jeff Lewis has been representing a party who until recently had been restrained unlawfully by such a Section 527.6 injunction issued illegally by California Superior Court Judge Gary Tanaka. Judge Gary Tanaka issued his invalid order following the issuance on June 1, 2017 by Superior Court Commissioner Glenda Veasey of a restraining order protecting Mr. Lewis’s client and his family from Palos Verdes Estates neighbor Cindy Dunbar.  On April 26, 2019, the California Second District Court of Appeal issued its decision rejecting Dan Dunbar’s invalid harassment claim. The Court thereby dissolved the injunction, agreeing firmly with the Jeff Lewis Law that its client had not engaged in illegal harassment and that Judge Gary Tanaka had erred in issuing the order in 2017. Moreover, the Court of Appeal found that Mr. Lewis’s client had at no time been provided his legally owed due process right vis-à-vis any claim, unsubstantiated or otherwise, of illegal harassment of Cynthia Dunbar.

Importantly, the Court of Appeal accepted and acknowledged legally recorded audio evidence (submitted by Jeff Lewis’ illegally restrained client). Such audio recording disproved materially false statements and declarations, made under penalty of perjury, by Petitioner Dan Dunbar and his wife Cindy Dunbar. Such false statements presumably were made by Daniel Dunbar and Cynthia Dunbar in order to buttress Mr. Dunbar’s invalid petition for protection through issuance of an illegally granted restraining order. Due to failure of evidence, the Court of Appeal did not need to address the Lewis firm’s First Amendment argument that the restraining order was an illegal prior restraint. Torrance Superior Court Judge Gary Tanaka explicitly sought to deprive Jeff Lewis’ client of his constitutional right to inform neighbors truthfully of his Palos Verdes Estates neighbor Cindy Dunbar’s drug related criminal record (including, for a period of time, a felony conviction), unserved jail sentence but served house arrest, and other related matters.

Following the unlawful issuance of the illegal restraining order, Daniel and Cynthia Dunbar attempted to leverage the restraining order against Mr. Lewis’ client by making false allegations to the police department and District Attorney that the order had been violated. However, upon the District Attorney learning that the Los Angeles Superior Court issued the protective order illegally following the declaration of false allegations by the Dunbars, the District Attorney dismissed all of the Dunbars’ charges. Jeff Lewis’ client never spent one minute in a courtroom relating to the dismissed, false allegations. You can access the opening brief filed in this case here, the appellant’s reply brief here and the opinion here.

Jeffrey Lewis and the other attorneys at Jeff Lewis Law are experienced trial and appellate attorneys who can advise you about the specifics of your First Amendment issue or appeal. Each case is different and you should consult a lawyer rather than relying on this post as legal advice for your situation. If you are contemplating filing or responding to lawsuit or appeal with potential First Amendment issues, consider hiring a certified appellate specialist as your lawyer or co-counsel.

Leave a Reply