Can Tenants Post Political Signs?

Can landlords stop their tenants from posting signs for a political candidate or proposition the landlord doesn’t support? The answer generally is no. Since 2012, the law in California allows tenants to post political signs, but there are some restrictions. Continue reading

Is It Too Risky to SLAPP Back?

ThinkstockPhotos-185824314Your client got hit with a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) suit, i.e., a suit with a cause of action based on your client’s act in furtherance of the constitutional right of petition or free speech in connection with a public issue. You have a chance to hit back with a special motion to strike the cause of action under the anti-SLAPP statute. But should you? Continue reading

Checklist: Does the Anti-SLAPP Statute Apply?

533402213An anti-SLAPP motion to strike is generally available when one of the causes of action in a case is based on an act of a person in furtherance of the person’s constitutional right of petition or free speech in connection with a public issue. CCP §425.16(b)(1). That may sound straightforward, but it can actually be tricky to determine if the statute applies to a particular cause of action you want to attack. Here’s a handy checklist to take you through the determination of whether an anti-SLAPP motion may be on the table. Continue reading

My Records Are Sealed

It used to be that parties could simply agree on their own to keep court records away from public view. But times have changed, and there’s a growing concern that information that should arguably have been publicly available was sealed from view. So now parties need to file a motion or an application for an order sealing the record, and the court may or may not grant it. Continue reading

Social Media Adds a New Twist to PreTrial Publicity Ethical Issues

Updated on 10/31/12: The ABA Journal reports that the judge refused to issue a gag order to bar comments and blogging by George Zimmerman’s defense lawyer, finding no “overriding pattern of prejudicial commentary” and that an impartial jury could still be seated.

In an admittedly unusual move, the defense team for George Zimmerman, the man charged with murdering Trayvon Martin, has launched a new website, Facebook, and Twitter account to “disput[e] misinformation,” “discourag[e] speculation,” and provide “a voice for Mr. Zimmerman.” The website also seeks donations for Zimmerman’s defense fund. Is this new route for defense counsel a risky maneuver? How would California’s legal ethics rules weigh in? Continue reading

Supreme Court’s Recognition of a “Ministerial Exception” in First Amendment May Have Wide-Reaching Implications

The following is a guest blog post by Alan D. Weinfeld of Parker, Milliken, Clark, O’Hara & Samuelian in Los Angeles.

The United States Supreme Court recently recognized the existence of a “ministerial exception” in the First Amendment, which precludes lawsuits by ministers against their religious institutions for violations of employment discrimination laws. This decision could have wide-reaching impact not just on churches, temples and mosques, but on all types of religious-based organizations. Continue reading

Was BART’s Cutting Cell Service a Violation of Free Speech?

For what seems to be the first time in the United States, a government agency cut off mobile-internet and phone service to quash a protest demonstration.  Was this a valid and reasonable way to protect public safety or an unlawful infringement on free speech rights protected under the First Amendment? Continue reading

City Council Meetings Begin with the Lord’s Prayer and End Up with a Lawsuit

The Sussex County Council in Delaware begins each public meeting with the Lord’s Prayer, and has now ended up with a lawsuit (.pdf) for violation of the separation of church and state. Continue reading

Libel Tourism

As Americans, we feel comfortable saying whatever we want about public officials and celebrities on our blogs and websites. We’ve got the First Amendment behind us. Unfortunately, the First Amendment doesn’t stretch to cover everywhere our Internet musings may go. Forum shopping has taken a new turn — libel tourism – in which defamation plaintiffs seek a forum that will provide the least protection for statements. Continue reading

The Right to Tattoo

In a decision that conflicts with those of at least six other cases from various jurisdictions, the Ninth Circuit, as Law.com puts it, “had no trouble deeming tattoos and the business of tattoo parlors forms of pure expression fully protected by the First Amendment.” Continue reading