Ted Rall’s legal fight against the LA Times was argued before the Second District Court of Appeal earlier this month. Audio of the oral argument is posted here. Ted wrote an article about the appellate argument here. From that article:
It ought to be illegal for a police department to own a newspaper. But it’s not. In 2015 the LAPD pension fund was a major shareholder of Tribune Publishing, owner of the Times. Annoyed at my cartoons about him, then-LAPD Chief Charlie Beck asked the Times then-publisher Austin Beutner, now LA schools superintendent, to fire me as a political favor. He did. Beck also wanted my reputation destroyed so I could never work again, in order to send a message to journalists: don’t mess with the LAPD. Beutner, Beck’s political ally and a man with ambitions to become mayor or governor, complied by ordering that the paper publish two libelous articles about me portraying me as a liar.
The second one was published after I proved I had told the truth.
I sued for defamation and wrongful termination in 2016.
Since thenTimes attorney Kelli Sager, who also represents theNational Enquirer in its smear of gay icon Richard Simmons, has waged a scorched-earth litigation campaign designed to intimidate, harass and delay my quest to clear my name. Sager filed the anti-SLAPP, a law designed to be used by individuals to defend themselves against powerful corporate entities, against me. She convinced the court to force me to pay $75,000 just to be able to continue my case for something called a “Section 1030”—a law whose intent is to discriminate against out-of-state plaintiffs (I live in New York.) Last week, during oral arguments in open court, she compared me to a “pedophile.”
You can read Ted Rall’s entire account of oral argument here.
For sometime, the City Attorney for Rancho Palos Verdes has been investigating leaks of closed session meetings. The City has taken the extraordinary act of issuing legislative subpoenas — an authorized but rarely used tool of city government — to compel residents to produce documents to the City. Jeff Lewis represents former Mayor Brian Campbell and has called on the City Attorney to recuse itself from the investigation of this issue. From the letter requesting recusal:
I am writing this letter on behalf of former Mayor Campbell and other residents of the City who have concerns about the City’s transparency and handling of the current investigation into leaks of closed-door meetings. I would urge you to carefully review the entirety of the enclosed email exchange closely and make your own judgments about the implication of the statements made therein.
The email is disturbing for the following reasons: First, your subcommittee has been charged with investigating leaks from closed door session meetings of the City Council. On November 2, 2017, 12:14 p.m., Dave Aleshire disclosed to Ms. Berkowitz confidential information shared with the City Council in closed session. That is an unauthorized leak that the City should investigate. On October 31, 2017, 6:19 p.m. Mr. Aleshire disclosed to Sharon Loveys a costs summary shared with the City Council in closed session. That is also an unauthorized leak that the City should investigate.
A complete copy of the request for recusal letter is available here: 20181004 – Recusal Letter
On May 9, 2018, Jeff Lewis addressed the Board of Education for the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District regarding problems with the baseball program at Palos Verdes High School:
The Daily Breeze reports here on the unprecedented move by the City of Rancho Palos Verdes to issue a legislative subpoena to a former city official. Jeff Lewis voices his concern about the potential for abuse in the article.
In January, the Second District Court of Appeal issued its opinion about the validity of the property deed restrictions and the propriety of the 2012 sale of parkland in Palos Verdes Estates. The Palos Verdes Homes Association filed a Petition for Rehearing asking the same three appellate justices who decided the case to change their mind. Today that request for a rehearing was denied. In addition, the Court of Appeal strengthened its earlier decision by adding the following footnote to the opinion on the validity of the deeds:
The Association argues that it had the right to transfer the parkland to the Luglianis because this original declaration was never properly amended. But, the Chairman of the Association’s board expressly consented to the terms of the 1940 deed. By expressly agreeing to those terms, the Association cannot now argue that Bank of America had no power to include them.
For some time, an organization named “Residents for Open Board Elections” or “ROBE” has been attempting to get the Palos Verdes Homes Association to allow votes to be counted in the annual election to determine the members of the Board of Directors. The PV Homes Association’s long standing practice is not to count the votes and simply vote to re-appoint themselves as board members. As indicated in an article by the Daily Breeze, the Los Angeles Superior Court has ordered the board to count the votes:
A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has ordered the Palos Verdes Homes Association to unseal and tally ballots cast in its recent board election even though the group considers them invalid.
This was the ninth year in a row the association hasn’t met its quorum requirement — more than 50 percent of members voting — and each time that happens, the ballots remain uncounted and the directors retain their seats or appoint new members. This year, however, the association extended its voting deadline to Feb. 8 in an effort to reach a quorum.
Judge Ruth Kwan, hearing a lawsuit filed by a filed last May by a group of activists, said in December she would wait to see if a quorum was reached. Notified that it wasn’t, the judge last week called for an informal tally of the votes to help her decide how to rule in the case.
(Judge asks Palos Verdes Homes Association to count votes in disputed board election, Daily Breeze, February 23, 2018).
The Daily Breeze reports on a parent group upset that PV High allowed a suspect in a gang murder to continue attending PV High. From the article:
On Monday, attorney Jeffrey Lewis said about a dozen parents forming the group Residents Against Gangs at School sent a letter to the Palos Verdes Peninsula school board asking for Terrell to be removed from campus and home-schooled, or transferred to a continuation school. He said the district was “needlessly exposing itself to moral and financial liability should any harm befall any student due to Terrell’s continued attendance at school.”
“The Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District has been silent about what steps are being taken to protect Palos Verdes children from Terrell and his accomplices,” the letter said. “While Terrell does enjoy the presumption of innocence in a court of law, there are serious safety concerns raised by Terrell’s continued attendance at school. At best, Terrell is a distraction to teachers, staff and other students. At worst, most law enforcement officers would say that allowing an 18-year old gang member suspected of a felony to attend a high school presents a clear and present danger to other students.”
Ted Rall is a political cartoonist and syndicated columnist. For many years his cartoons were run in the Los Angeles Times. The LA Times stopped running his work after the LAPD claimed that Rall made false statements about the LAPD in a Rall piece that was critical of the LAPD and chronicled an incident when Rall was handcuffed by the LAPD for jaywalking. Rall sued the LA Times for defamation. The LA Times brought an anti-SLAPP motion and the lawsuit against the Times was dismissed. Rall will appeal that ruling and I am honored to represent him in this important First Amendment case about the outer boundaries of the anti-SLAPP law.
The Hollywood Reporter posted this article about the successful motion by attorney Jeff Lewis to dismiss the frivolous lawsuit by Vince Gallo against a California reporter.