The latest news is the appeal of attorney fees awarded to the Defendants in the “shill lawsuit” against Mayor Brand, his volunteer campaign treasurer, Council Member Nils Nehrenheim and ROW President Wayne Craig will be heard at the California State Supreme Court in San Francisco for oral arguments on Wednesday December 7th at 1PM. (You can watch live or afterward on the court website).
To date the facts are court-confirmed shills Chris Voisey and Arnette Travis lost their original lawsuit in Superior Court in 2018. Furthermore, it was determined to be frivolous and they were ordered to pay $898,000 in legal expenses plus interest at the rate of 10% per year. They filed an appeal which they lost in the Appellate Court where a panel of three judges all affirmed the original court judgement. Despite what lawsuit losers have said on a tiny local podcast show, the lawsuit was determined to be frivolous, and they still owe our legal expenses plus accrued interest.
After losing a second time they have now dropped any pretense they are paying for anything. The court-confirmed shills previous attorney Bradley Hertz, was removed from the case and they are now using Betty Shumener, CenterCal’s corporate attorney.
There is speculation as to why this move was made but many are saying it could be the fact ROW’s attorney was able to call Bradley Hertz to the Witness stand in the first Superior Court trial. There after much protesting Hertz was compelled by Superior Court Judge Malcom Mackey to reveal CenterCal was both behind and paying for the lawsuit from the start. This was unfortunately after Voisey and Travis previously that same day testified on the witness stand they didn’t know who was paying for or behind the lawsuit.
Legal experts believe after Hertz was compelled to answer the question of who was paying, it proved his clients had committed perjury under oath, and Hertz allowing it to occur without objection was an ethical violation worthy of a State BAR Association complaint or full disbarment. These same legal experts have stated that may be why 3 weeks later, Voisey and Travis filed a sworn statement via Attorney Bradley Hertz contradicting what they said under oath on the witness stand. The post-trial verdict document claims Travis and Voisey did know CenterCal was paying for the lawsuit all along in what legal experts are calling a weak attempt to avoid prosecution for perjury.
The case has now been lost twice by Voisey and Travis in court and ruled as a frivolous lawsuit. They are now trying to squirm out of having to pay our legal expenses as we are the prevailing party. One would think that is a no-brainer but in the world of “what big money can buy” you can argue about anything. Remember this is only to pay our legal expenses as it does not recover all the lost time, income, and personal stress this frivolous lawsuit created for each defendant for the past 5 1/2 years.
The legal question asked in the State Supreme Court appeal can be summarized as follows: Must a prevailing defendant in an action under the Political Reform Act of 1974 (Gov. Code, § 81000 et seq.) show that the case was frivolous, unreasonable, or without foundation in order to recover attorney fees?
The Supreme Court accepted review of the case for a very limited issue – that is, whether or not both sides (plaintiffs and defendants) who prevail (win) in the trial court are allowed to recover their attorney fees merely because they won the case, or whether prevailing defendants have an additional hurdle – to prove the plaintiff’s case was frivolous, unreasonable or without foundation in order to recover attorney fees. And, the reason the California Supreme Court is reviewing this issue is because a case in San Diego (Hedgecock) said the defendants have that additional burden, while our case in Los Angeles (Travis) found that prevailing defendants do not have any added hurdle – that is, either party who wins, recovers attorney fees.
It is believed because there is a split in authority within the State, the California Supreme Court wants to have a uniform decision as to how to handle these cases in the future so there is no uncertainty. “Travis” can still be cited and used as precedential authority. Lastly, the practical effect of this review is likely nothing in our case. The trial court in our case already found that plaintiffs’ case was frivolous, unreasonable and without foundation. So even if we are obligated to demonstrate that the case was frivolous, unreasonable or without foundation in order to recover attorney fees, we already have. The factual findings of the trial court in “Travis” will not be disturbed on appeal. So, we will still recover our costs and fees; it will just take a little more time. But, interest continues to accrue at 10% per annum.
While the case will be heard on December 7th we will not immediately hear back from the court as they have up to 90 days to make a formal ruling.
Until then wish us luck!
For those interested in the history (as our local press can’t keep up) here are links on this Frivolous Case which has persisted for over 5 1/2 years and cost us thousands of hours of our time, hundreds of thousands of dollars of lost income, and continued personal attacks. All for exercising our First Amendment Rights!
Appeals Court Win 3/21/21 – Appeal Court Affirms Plaintiffs loss and must pay legal expenses. Link
Slapped the SLAP 11/20/2020 – Recap Two Years after the court win and names other Redondo Beach City Council Members who knew about the lawsuit before we did! Link
Hertz is SLAPP Happy – 8/13/2020 – The CenterCal Shill attorney files a similar lawsuit against residents in San Diego County Link
Judgement Day 6/27/19 – The court awards our legal expenses and we call out the lies told by the shills. Link
We are getting closer to our goal but ROW still needs your help to defend Redondo Beach residents from unscrupulous developers, outside special interests, and crony corruption, and to help build the future you voted for at the ballot box, so please donate Here.