Time’s Up: Amici Brief in Dababneh vs Lopez

Media Alliance joined the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press and 15 other media organizations in filing an amici brief in Sacramento Superior Court in support of Pamela Lopez.

Pamela Lopez, a lobbyist in the California State Capital, filed a sexual assault claim against then-assembly-representative Matthew Dababneh, stating that Dababneh cornered her in a restroom and exposed himself.

The Legislature investigated and determined that the events described by Lopez probably occurred and Dababneh resigned his position. However, he filed a defamation lawsuit against Lopez for her statements to the press prior to her testimony to a legislative subcommittee.

Lopez defended on the basis that the defamation lawsuit was a SLAPP lawsuit intended to silence her, and this defense is now being appealed after a lower court ruled favorably towards Dababneh.

Amici state:

The lower court’s holding in this case would directly harm
the ability of the press to report on government activities in
California. If upheld, the lower court’s ruling would discourage
individuals with credible claims of wrongdoing by government
officials from coming forward and, importantly for amici, from
speaking to the press should they choose to come forward. Not
only is the lower court’s holding contrary to clear and established
law in California, it would stanch the free flow of newsworthy
information to the public and undercut the goal of the First
Amendment itself: the protection of robust public debate
concerning government affairs and the conduct of government

You can read the full amici brief below.