Posts Tagged ‘City Council’

City Council Members Repeatedly Bringing SLAPP Actions

Anti-SLAPP motion defeats red light camerasGovernments, especially city councils, are learning the hard lessons about SLAPPs. I already told you about our victory over a city council member who thought she could sue when someone said something she didn’t like, and another city council member who tried to bring an offensive action to stop a legal action by the council.

Now comes the Monroe, Washington City Council with a major case of hubris. From what I can piece together, the city’s red light camera contract is set to expire. The city council took a vote or something and the citizens of that fair city voted resoundingly NOT to renew the contract. But that would mean all the red light camera would go away, and some were concerned that the city council was going to interpret the vote as only a repudiation of that particular contract with that particular vendor, not of the entire red light camera concept.

So along comes a citizen group called Seeds of Liberty. To make sure there was no confusion, it gathered sufficient signatures for a ballot measure that would permit the citizens to vote away the red light cameras. No harm there, certainly. If it was true that the city council intended to view the prior vote as a repudiation of the cameras, then what difference would this initiative make? The initiative would be a concern only if the city council did have some nefarious agenda to keep the cameras.

Sure enough, the City sued to stop the initiative, claiming it went beyond the function of an initiative.

Let’s run that through the SLAPP analysis. The city filed an action that is seeking to prevent a valid initiative from being placed on the ballot, and every indication is that the city does not want that initiative on the ballot because it doesn’t agree with the likely result. Sounds like a SLAPP to me.

The court agreed and granted the Seeds of Liberty’s anti-SLAPP motion. Sadly, this means the people spoke up, their government tried to silence them, and now the city council must pay the attorney fees incurred in bringing the anti-SLAPP motion, which is really just repaying the citizens with their own money.

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Aaron Morris, Attorney
Aaron Morris
Morris & Stone, LLP

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