LOS ANGELES — A communications skilled sued together with Los Angeles County District Lawyer George Gascón, by a veteran prosecutor who alleges he has been defamed for being an outspoken critic of Gascón’s reform directives, argues in new court docket papers that he ought to be dismissed from the case on free speech grounds.
Deputy District Lawyer Jon Hatami’s lawsuit additionally alleges harassment in opposition to Maxwell Szabo, whose attorneys filed an anti-SLAPP movement, on Wednesday, stating of their court docket papers that Hatami is a limited-purpose public determine who has additionally did not reveal malice or harassment in his pleadings.
Amongst Hatami’s high-profile assignments is the case of Jose Cuatro and Maria Juarez, a Palmdale couple charged with homicide and torture within the demise of their 4-year-old son, Noah Cuatro.
He additionally was one in all two prosecutors within the trial of Isauro Aguirre and Pearl Fernandez for the demise of Gabriel Fernandez, the lady’s 8-year-old son.
When Gascón was sworn into workplace, in December 2020, he promised to cease implementing California’s three-strikes regulation, finish use of the demise penalty and create a overview Board to carry regulation enforcement officers extra accountable.
As Hatami has continued to be vital of Gascón’s adjustments, the alleged hostile work and retaliation towards him has continued, in line with his swimsuit filed, in September 2021.
“Gascón has intentionally denied assigning (Hatami) to advanced little one abuse and homicide instances inside his jurisdiction as punishment for not going alongside together with his directives,” the swimsuit alleges. “This in flip impacts (Hatami’s) work and skill to show himself for desired promotions.”
Szabo, who is also an legal professional, consulted for the committee to elect Gascón by the 2020 election and Gascón’s subsequent transition into workplace. As a part of his job, Szabo defined and defended Gascón’s coverage proposals and directives.
Hatami alleges that Szabo, appearing as a spokesperson for Gascón’s workplace, defamed the plaintiff with 4 statements: calling Hatami a “rogue DA” on Twitter, stating on tv that Hatami’s “delusional theories increase questions as to 1’s health to apply regulation,” referred to as Hatami a “liar” throughout a 2021 Whittier Metropolis Council assembly and referred to a photograph of Hatami on tv as a “portrait of fear-mongering.”
Szabo’s anti-SLAPP — Strategic Lawsuit Towards Public Participation — movement was introduced below a state regulation supposed to stop individuals from utilizing courts and potential threats of a lawsuit, to intimidate those that are exercising their First Modification rights.
Szabo’s attorneys keep that as a result of Hatami is, at minimal, a restricted function public determine, the a part of the plaintiff’s case in opposition to their consumer ought to be dismissed on free speech grounds.
Szabo’s attorneys state of their court docket papers that, amongst different issues, Szabo retweeted another person’s unique tweet referring to a “rogue DA” and that the assertion doesn’t point out Hatami. Szabo’s legal professionals additionally say their consumer’s remark throughout the Whittier Metropolis Council assembly was privileged.
Even when a choose concludes that the 4 alleged Szabo statements had been defamatory, every is “constitutionally protected as opinion or rhetorical hyperbole,” Szabo’s attorneys additional argue of their court docket papers.
For instance, calling Hatami, who has talked brazenly about defying Gascón, a “rogue DA” is a matter of protected opinion and hyperbole, Szabo’s attorneys argue of their court docket papers.
Even when Szabo had stated immediately that Hatami was a “portrait of fear-mongering” — a press release Szabo doesn’t concede making — such a remark “within the context of disputes in regards to the security and efficacy of the DA’s insurance policies could be protected opinion or “Hatami’s allegations repeatedly reinforce the context right here: Hatami is a vocal and open critic of Gascón and his insurance policies, whereas Szabo is a staunch defender of Gascón and his insurance policies,” in line with the court docket papers of Szabo’s legal professionals, who additional argue that the courts have repeatedly held that calling somebody a liar shouldn’t be actionable.
A listening to on Szabo’s anti-SLAPP movement is scheduled, July 17, earlier than Decide Stephanie M. Bowick.