Ted Rall is an award-winning nationally syndicated political cartoonist who was terminated by the Los Angeles Times as a favor to outgoing LAPD Chief Charlie Beck in 2015. (At the time, the LAPD Protective League pension fund was the biggest shareholder of the Times’ parent company.) Adding insult to injury, the Times published two pieces, both proven false, that defamed Rall in a scorched-earth attempt to destroy his journalistic career. Mr. Rall sued in 2016. Now his fight for justice goes to California’s Courts of Appeal.
The Times, now under new ownership but being run into the ground by the Chicago-based “Tronc” corporation at the time, wrongfully terminated Mr. Rall in 2015 based on allegations that Mr. Rall falsified a story about being roughed up and handcuffed by the LAPD for jaywalking in 2001. Thanks to audio technology, Mr. Rall used the Times’ own evidence to prove that he told the truth, and that the LAPD lied. Inexplicably, the Times still refuses to admit they were wrong, issue a retraction and give Mr Rall his job back. Mr. Rall sued the Times and others responsible for his firing in 2016 but in the summer of 2017 the case was dismissed. Ironically, the Times used a California law designed to protect individuals’ First Amendment rights – the anti-SLAPP law – to obtain a dismissal before Mr. Rall could conduct discovery and before a jury could hear Mr. Rall’s story.
“This is about a lot more than a newspaper firing a cartoonist,” said Mr. Rall. “It’s about a newspaper colluding with a government agency, the most heavily militarized police department in the United States, in order to send a chilling message to journalists in Southern California that they risk losing everything if they dare to report the truth about the LAPD. How can the Times speak truth to power, when it’s in bed with that power?
This week Mr. Rall’s legal team – Roger Lowenstein and Jeff Lewis – filed an appellate brief before California’s Court of Appeals to reinstate Mr. Rall’s case and vindicate Mr. Rall’s First Amendment rights to speak his mind – draw his cartoons. You can access Mr. Rall’s opening brief here. As argued in the brief: “The Times hired Rall to speak truth to power, and when he did his job too well, they fired him.”
“Working on a case like this for a client like Ted is the reason I went to law school,” said Jeff Lewis. Although Mr. Lewis frequently represents defendants in anti-SLAPP motions and appeals, in this case, accepting the representation for a plaintiff was an easy choice. “The anti-SLAPP law was designed to protect an individual from a wealthy corporation using an army of lawyers to silence critics. In this case, the anti-SLAPP law was turned on its head by the Times’ massive financial and legal resources to keep a jury from ever hearing Ted’s story,” said Mr. Lewis.
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About Jeff Lewis
Jeff Lewis is a Certified Specialist in Appellate Law The State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization representing businesses and individuals in First Amendment and SLAPP matters throughout California. Contact Info: Tel. (310) 935-4001, E-Mail: Jeff@JeffLewisLaw.com, Web: www.JeffLewisLaw.com
About Roger Lowenstein
Roger Lowenstein is a lawyer (Harvard ‘68) and former professor of constitutional law. He is the founder and Executive Director of a social justice-themed charter school in Lincoln Heights. The school, Los Angeles Leadership Academy, K-12, serves 650 predominantly Latino families and is designed to produce critical thinkers who perceive themselves as agents of social change. 100% of the students graduate and go to college.
About Ted Rall
Ted Rall, cartoonist for Forbes, is America’s most widely-syndicated alternative editorial cartoonist. Twice the winner of the RFK Journalism Award and a Pulitzer Prize finalist, Rall’s cartoons and illustrations have appeared in Time, Newsweek, USA Today, Rolling Stone, Esquire, The Wall Street Journal, The Village Voice and hundreds of other publications and websites. He is a regular contributor to MAD magazine.
Rall is the author of 20 books, including the Gen X manifesto Revenge of the Latchkey Kids, the bestselling first book filed from the 2001 U.S. invasion, To Afghanistan and Back, the radical Anti-American Manifesto, and a mixed-media look at the U.S. occupation from beginning to end, After We Kill You We Will Welcome You As Honored Guests. Most recently, he authored the New York Times bestselling graphic biography Bernie, as well as the bios Snowden and Trump.