Anti-SLAPP Status Stripped, Detrick Granted New Trial in Defamation Suit Against Conley

June 4, 2014 | In a tentative ruling issued this afternoon, Elk Grove resident Brian Detrick was granted a new trial in his defamatio...

June 4, 2014 |

In a tentative ruling issued this afternoon, Elk Grove resident Brian Detrick was granted a new trial in his defamation lawsuit against community activist Connie Conley. Detrick is the son of Elk Grove City Council Member Steve Detrick.

The ruling from Sacramento County Superior Court Judge David I. Brown reversed a ruling he issued in April that at the time killed Detrick's lawsuit against Conley. In that ruling, Brown agreed with Conley's counter-suit that asserted Detrick's lawsuit was a strategic lawsuit against public participation, a so-called SLAPP lawsuit, and, therefore, his defamation claims had little chance of prevailing as the matter was a public interest.

Because Brown initially ruled in agreement with Conley's argument that Detrick's suit was a SLAPP, it ended ended his defamation proceedings against against Conley.

In today's ruling reversing his April decision, Brown agreed with Attorney Daniel Strouder's motion for a new trial citing case law that the wrong legal standard was applied when he ruled in support of Conley's anti-SLAPP motion. Brown wrote "Defamatory statements can be implied and must be interpreted in context and under the totality of the circumstances. The statements need only be reasonably susceptible to a defamatory meaning in order for their interpretation to become a factual issue for the jury."

Brown said that while Detrick had been notified by California Attorney General Attorney's office that he was required to register as a commercial fundraiser in 2011, it has not been determined whether or not he was involved in commercial fundraising in April, 2013, the time of which Detrick alleges he was defamed by Conley.  

Brown specially cited California Civil Procedure Section 657 (6) that says, "Insufficiency of the evidence to justify the verdict or other decision, or the verdict or other decision is against law" which allows for a vacating portions of a ruling or granting a new trial. 

In a second ruling, Brown denied a motion filed by Conley's attorney Jeffrey Kravitz seeking attorney fees for the April Anti-SLAPP ruling that favored Conley.

No trial date has been set.

For a complete background on the Detrick-Conley lawsuit, use the search feature on the lower left column on the front page of this site. Use the query Detrick Conley to find links to previous stories on the matter.  

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1 comment

Michael Monasky said...

This all looks particularly ugly.

I see that Detrick the Elder is becoming alienated from the very people who originally supported his election to the council seat he now occupies.
However, Detrick the Ambitious is a branded celebrity, and the one who truly deserves to be feared. Offspring can concentrate the powers of their fathers in their drive to be competitive.

There are losers galore in this scenario.
The only winners are the litigating attorneys, whose retainers are paid up front and who have everything to win in wearing down and beating their opponents.

Meanwhile, saying anything about a celebrity, even in this town, can get you into heaps of trouble.
It's a sad day for democracy, and a blemish on the record of Detrick the Elder.

The son should think about more than just his career image.
And the father should rethink his concept of branding.

When he mentioned that the South East Planning Area should be branded "The Grove," I had to laugh.
The Sacramento News and Review used to call this place "Elk-less Grove" since there are no elk here.
With all the clear-cutting, it's become more a "tree-less grove."

Branding is meaningless when it's known that the product is tainted.

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