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ATTORNEY SLAPPED DOWN BY PANEL OF FOURTH DISTRICT When the state attorney general came after him for allegedly abusing California’s unfair competition law by filing hundreds of unwarranted suits against nail salons and Asian grocery stores, Harpreet Brar invoked the state’s anti-SLAPP law. But on Tuesday, Santa Ana’s Fourth District Court of Appeal, in a published ruling, dismissed Brar’s complaint while showing outright disdain for an obvious ploy. “Brar’s appeal practically has the words �brought for reasons of delay’ virtually tattooed on its forehead,” Justice David Sills wrote. “If this appeal is not frivolous at a glance,” he continued, “no appeal is.” Justices William Rylaarsdam and Raymond Ikola concurred. The AG’s office filed a complaint last summer against Brar, a partner in Long Beach’s Brar & Gamulin and a resident of Orange County, ordering him and several others to stop filing suits under Business & Professions Code § 17200. Brar responded by trying to get the AG’s complaint dismissed under the state’s anti-SLAPP law. The appeal court held, however, that the anti-SLAPP statute “specifically exempts” actions brought by public prosecutors, including the AG. It also said that Brar had allegedly engaged in the sort of abuse that “made the Trevor Law Group a household name” in 2002 and 2003. Sills wrote that Brar, acting as a consumer watchdog, sued for “ridiculously minor violations” — nail salons for supposedly using one bottle of polish for more than one customer and grocery stores for allegedly selling or renting videos violating anti-pirating statutes. “Since even frivolous lawsuits can have economic nuisance value,” Justice Sills wrote, “the attorneys then contact the business (often owned by immigrants for whom English is a second language), and point out that a quick settlement (usually around a few thousand dollars) would be in the business’s long-term interest.” San Diego-based Deputy AG Howard Wayne welcomed the court’s ruling. “The most important thing is that it’s clear there’s a bar on bringing an anti-SLAPP motion in an enforcement action by the attorney general in the name of the people,” he said. “This also is the first case to say not only that you can’t bring the motion, you can’t appeal from its denial either.” The State Bar has taken no action to remove Brar’s law license. Brar couldn’t be reached for comment. The ruling is People ex rel. Lockyer v. Brar, 04 C.D.O.S. 1624. — Mike McKee DEPUTY PD LOSES APPEAL Fired defense attorney Thomas Spielbauer has lost his appeal to be reinstated as a Santa Clara deputy public defender despite testimony in support of his case from a judge. The Santa Clara County personnel board refused Spielbauer’s arguments that his firing was politically motivated. The public defender terminated Spielbauer in July after the district attorney criminally charged him with one misdemeanor count of misleading the court. Spielbauer stands accused of misstating the availability of a witness. Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Paul Teilh, who was presiding over the case that now has Spielbauer in trouble, testified in front of the personnel board that he was not misled and did not find the public defender in contempt. But the board backed up Chief Assistant Public Defender David Mann’s analysis that Spielbauer’s actions violated his ethical obligations as an attorney. Teilh has also testified for Spielbauer during a motions hearing in the ongoing criminal case, but Deputy Public Defender Frank Berry said he will try to exclude Teilh from testifying at trial. Spielbauer said he will appeal the personnel board decision to superior court. His criminal trial is set for later this month. — Shannon Lafferty SO LONG, ROSEBUD They didn’t rush out to rent “Citizen Kane,” but Pillsbury Winthrop lawyers had the movie in mind as they hammered out a deal for the sale of the San Francisco Examiner to Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz. “Since I was in high school and saw �Citizen Kane’ I’ve been fascinated by the history of California and the part the Examiner played,” said Pillsbury partner Nathaniel Cartmell III, who co-led the team representing Anschutz. “To reach back to those times was fascinating.” Last week Anschutz purchased the Examiner — along with the San Francisco Independent, the San Mateo Independent, a printing plant and rights to the Bay to Breakers annual footrace in San Francisco — from the Fang family. Although the terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, the deal was widely reported to be worth $20 million. The Hearst Corp. sold the Examiner to the Fangs in 2000, providing a $66 million subsidy spread over three years. That deal settled an antitrust suit filed against Hearst after the company purchased the San Francisco Chronicle. The Examiner was the flagship paper of publishing tycoon William Randolph Hearst, on whom Orson Welles based his 1941 movie. In 2003, the Fang family made the paper a free tabloid and laid off a few dozen editorial staffers. Pillsbury lawyers began working on the Anschutz-Fang deal in early January. The firm got the business through a New York partner who had previously worked with the Anschutz Co. official heading up the Examiner acquisition. While they were mum about the behind-the-scenes discussions, the lawyers said it was a slow process. “To get from the outlines of a deal to where there was more meat on the bones took longer than I would have expected,” said Pillsbury Palo Alto partner Bradley Kohn. The Pillsbury team consisted of seven partners and five associates. Richard Greene, of Greene Radovsky Maloney & Share, represented the Fang family with the help of two associates. Greene declined to discuss the transaction. — Brenda Sandburg

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