City of Montebello v. Vasquez

A suit brought in a city’s name by a private attorney is not an enforcement action brought in the name of the People of the State of California by the Attorney General, or a district attorney or a city attorney acting as a public prosecutor and so is not exempt from the Anti-SLAPP statute.  CCP 425.16(d) exempts from the scope of the Anti-SLAPP statute (CCP 425.16) an enforcement action brought in the name of the People of the State of California by the Attorney General, or a district attorney or a city attorney acting as a public prosecutor.  The exemption is to be read narrowly in accord with its precise language.  Hence, this suit by the City of Montebello in its own name and prosecuted by private attorneys did not fit within the exemption even if it could be deemed an enforcement action.  City of Los Angeles v. Animal Defense League (2006) 135 Cal.App.4th 606 and City of Long Beach v. Citizens for Neighborhood Empowerment (2003) 111 Cal.App.4th 302, both of which read the exemption broadly, are disapproved.  City of Colton v. Singletary (2012) 206 Cal.App.4th 751, which took a narrow view, is approved instead.  Though the US Supreme Court has held that elected officials’ votes are not protected by the First Amendment, this decision holds that such votes, taken after a public meeting, on an issue pending before the elected body are protected activity under the Anti-SLAPP statute which protects activities “in furtherance of” First Amendment protected conduct as well.  However, the votes are protected activity only with respect to a suit against the elected officials who cast them, not in a suit against the public body seeking to invalidate its action based on those votes.

California Supreme Court (Corrigan, J.; Liu & Kruger, JJ., concurring & dissenting); August 8, 2016; 2016 WL 4169258

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