Ambush “Journalism” Protected by Anti-SLAPP Law

Blanche Hall, the one-time housekeeper for Marlon Brando, alleged that a camera crew and “reporters” for the television show “Celebrity Justice” burst into her room at her retirement home, woke her up, and began filming an impromptu interview about her work for Brando.  All of this, according to the decision in Hall v. Time Warner, is protected conduct that qualifies for California’s special motion to strike procedure.

Code of Civil Procedure §425.16 (the anti-SLAPP law) provides for early dismissal of cases that are based on the defendant’s constitutional rights of free speech or petition in connection with a matter of public concern.  Once that is established, the plaintiff must demonstrate a probability of succeeding on the merits.  This determination takes place before discovery and requires the trial court to consider the admissibility of evidence on which the plaintiff is basing her case.

The court ruled that the public concern test was met here since Hall was listed as a beneficiary of Brando’s will.  Further, actions taken to secure an interview to be broadcast on national television qualify as acts in furtherance of free speech rights.

One Response to “Ambush “Journalism” Protected by Anti-SLAPP Law”

  1. Greg May says:

    Interesting that this case got no further than the first prong of rhe anti-SLAPP motion analysis. With the Court of Appeal sending the case back to the trial court to determine the second prong — whether the plaintiff is likely to prevail on her claims — it will be interesting to see how that comes out.

    The California Supreme Court has issued so many SLAPP opinions in the last two years, it’s easy to see any given SLAPP case as a candidate for review.

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