Doe v. State of California

Trial court properly granted Anti-SLAPP motion filed by State of California in lawsuit brought by individual who was claiming the State threatened him with arrest or prosecution if he failed to register as a sex offender.  The State of California, like other public entities, may bring an Anti-SLAPP motion.  Here, plaintiff sued the state and the Department of Justice, claiming its agents had threatened him with arrest or prosecution if he failed to register as a sex offender, when in fact he was not required to do so because his sex offense conviction had been reversed on appeal.  Threats of actually contemplated future litigation are protected activity under the Anti-SLAPP statute, and maintenance of the sex offender registry was a matter of public interest and so also protected under the statute.  Plaintiff did not show a probability of success on the merits of his claims.  His claim under Civil Code 52.1 failed because a wrongful arrest or the threat of a wrongful arrest and prosecution does not satisfy the statute’s requirement of interference with legal rights by threat, intimidation or coercion.  Plaintiff’s negligence, false arrest, and defamation claims failed because the state was immune from liability under Gov. Code 821.6 which immunizes the government from liability for prosecution of litigation, even if maliciously motivated.  Also, those claims failed because it was plaintiff’s responsibility to register as a sex offender and to know whether he was required to do so.  He could have found out about the reversal of his conviction by consulting public records, but failed to do so.

California Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division 1 (Benke, Acting P.J.); January 26, 2017 (published February 15, 2017); 2017 WL 611891

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