Kronick Moskovitz attorney defending Elk Grove wrote 'anti-SLAPP' motions to strike unlikely to succeed


If there is one thing certain about Elk Grove's city attorney's office, even though it is well-staffed and highly paid, much of its legal work is performed by the Sacramento-based law firm Kronick Moskovitz. Not coincidentally, the city's attorney, Jonathan Hobbs, was once a partner with the white shoe law firm. 

One of these legal conflicts the city is involved in is the case of the owner and family of the euthanized dog known as Zeus. The family has sought relief against the city in federal and state courts, and for much of this work, Elk Grove has relied on Kornick Moskovitz attorney David Tyra. 

When a tentative ruling was issued yesterday in Sacramento Superior Court, it was curious that city attorney Hobbs, and not Tyra, had filed a so-called anti-SLAPP motion in the case Ghesal Kabir vs. City of Elk Grove 2022-00327633-CU-PO. Hobbs, who used the legal maneuver to dismiss the case, failed.

Although Judge Richard K. Sueyoshi seemed to scold the plaintiff's attorney in the five-page ruling, he denied Hobbs' motion. The ruling said, "Elk Grove Municipal Code § 8.060.070 violates the due process requirements of the U.S. Constitution," and therefore, the anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss was denied.

As noted in yesterday's story on the ruling, in matters like this, the city historically relies on Kronick Moskovitz to carry its water. But in this case, curiously, Hobbs filed the motion.


There is no definitive answer to that question. However, Tyra himself may have explained why Hobbs filed this motion in hopes of killing this lawsuit.

In a May 5, 2017, legal alert on Kronick Moskovitz's website, Tyra posted a story headlined, "Supreme Court narrows scope of anti-SLAPP motions." The case involved California State University professor Sungho Park who sued the system, alleging discrimination in denying him tenure. 

While the details of the CSU and Zeus' cases vary, they share one crucial similarity. In both cases, the defendant - powerful government agencies - filed anti-SLAPP dismissal motions.

Tyra wrote, "the use of anti-SLAPP motions to strike had become an increasingly popular tactic for responding to discrimination suits." With the 2017 California Supreme Court ruling, Tyra added, "The decision in Park now makes the potential for successful use of anti-SLAPP motions to strike in discrimination suits unlikely."

Given the court's ruling in a discrimination case, the precedent would likely apply to a party who has been, or claims to have been, denied due process under the U.S. Constitution.

We will never know what transpired between Hobbs and Tyra, but it would not be surprising to learn that the Kronick Moskovitz attorney declined to file a motion knowing it was a loser. But, of course, Kronick Moskovitz would still capture scores of billable hours, so all would not be lost for the firm. 

Conversely, even if Tyra and not Hobbs had filed the motion to dismiss, shouldn't he heed his own legal opinion? Or are the billable hours just that alluring?  

Still, this makes you wonder, are Elk Grove taxpayers getting screwed by the city's highly-compensated and under-worked legal staff who file motions that precedents show are losers? Just what are they hiding?  

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Neo Elk Grove said...

City council members and mayors come and go, but you can rely on the Jon Hobbs to be on duty collecting his fat salary while he plays his fiddle.

Renegade said...

What I've said all along; Hobbs is a highly paid but poor performing attorney who hands substantive legal matters off to his old law firm rather than taking them on himself along with his high paid staff. This begs the question: why are we paying Hobbs when Kronick is representing the city's interests? Wake up city leaders, you're wasting more of our tax dollars.

Eye on Elk Grove said...

Really, what does Elk Grove City Attorney Jonathan Hobbs do except pad Kronick Moskovitz's coffers? Can anyone say, "Hello my deferred comp account?" Hobbs is one of the highest paid civil servants in the entire Sacramento County and why?

Is Hobbs paid just to sit in council meetings and speak only on cue for his part of the rehearsed dog and pony show, just like a trained monkey? Appropriate given everything the Elk Grove City Council does is focused on the zoo which will bankrupt the city. Sure took the heat off of the money pit aquatics center, didn’t it?

D.J. Blutarsky said...

There have been many shenanigans from the City Attorney's office in the past 23 years since Elk Grove became a city. To borrow a legal term, I would describe their 'modus operandi' as (1) Defend City Council policies legal or not, daring anyone to challenge the deep pockets of the City; (2) Grind cases on as long as you can to slowly drain the pocketbooks of litigants; and when all else fails, (3) Carry a big checkbook to write NDA settlement checks to keep things buried from the public spotlight. 

I recognize that the City's liability insurance carrier foots most of the big bills from lost cases and the big settlement checks (and ultimately the taxpayers pay), but it sure would be interesting to see how the City's liability insurance premium has risen over the past 23 years to cover all of these shenanigans! I would file a document request with the City to find out, but I'm afraid they might slap me with a SLAPP suit! 

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