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ANTI-SLAPP MOTIONS NOT FILED REAP NO FEES Attorneys fees aren’t available when plaintiffs voluntarily dismiss a suit before the defense can file an anti-SLAPP motion, the state Supreme Court ruled Monday. “To allow recovery for post-dismissal work,” Justice Carol Corrigan wrote for a unanimous court, “runs counter to the purpose of [the anti-SLAPP law]: To compensate defendants for expenses incurred in extricating themselves from SLAPP suits.” Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation are suits ostensibly filed to interfere with a defendant’s business interests or free speech. But the 1992 anti-SLAPP law � codified as Code of Civil Procedure ��.16 � provides a special motion letting defendants attempt to strike such claims as baseless. If a defendant’s motion to strike prevails, they are entitled to attorneys fees and costs. But not, the court ruled Monday, if the plaintiff has dismissed the suit before the anti-SLAPP motion is filed. Corrigan said the ruling accomplishes two goals. “Plaintiffs have the freedom to reconsider the wisdom of their actions without penalty before defendants have incurred clearly identifiable and recoverable legal fees,” she wrote. “Defendants are expeditiously relieved of the burden a SLAPP suit imposes, because they must generally file their anti-SLAPP motion ‘within 60 days of the service of the complaint.’” The ruling is S.B. Beach Properties v. Berti, 06 C.D.O.S. 6915.

Mike McKee

ANOTHER FROM RYAN’S STAFF NAMED JUDGE Assistant U.S. Attorney Lewis Davis was tapped Monday to join the Contra Costa County Superior Court bench later this month, making him part of a succession of federal prosecutors to make that jump in recent years. Davis became the third member of U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan’s staff sent to the Contra Costa court by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, following John “Jack” Laettner and Charles “Ben” Burch, who were appointed in the last two years. Contra Costa Judges Theresa “Terry” Canepa, Harlan Grossman and John Kennedy have also served in the Northern District U.S. attorney’s office before. It’s been something of a long wait for Davis, 57, who first tried applying to the Contra Costa County Municipal Court 10 years ago. A Republican, Davis graduated from McGeorge School of Law and worked for six years as a deputy district attorney in Alameda County. In 16 years as a federal prosecutor, Davis served as member of the organized crime drug enforcement task force, and was also a training director for the U.S. attorney’s office under Robert Mueller, the current director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations. Of four others selected Monday for other courts, three are Republicans and one registered declining to state a party. Local prosecutor Edward Bullard will join the Santa Barbara County bench, while civil litigator Carolyn Caietti and federal prosecutor Laura Parsky will become judges in San Diego County. James Rogan, a former congressman who once served as director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, will fill an Orange County seat in October.

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