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New Cases of Interest - January 21, 2014
Hunter v. CBS Broadcasting, Inc. (2013) 221 Cal.App.4th 1510. A TV newscaster filed a complaint against CBS contending that they had refused to hire him as a weather news anchor because of his gender and age. The defendant filed a SLAPP motion contending that its selection of a newscaster qualified as an act in furtherance of its free speech rights. The court of appeal agreed with the defendant determining that the selection of weather news anchors helped advance or assist First Amendment expression and is therefore a form of protected activity. Weather reporting is a matter of public interest and on remand the trial court was instructed to determine whether plaintiff could demonstrate a reasonable probability of prevailing on the merits of his claim.
Ryan-Lanigan v. Bureau of Real Estate (2013) 222 Cal.App.4th 72. Here the California Bureau of Real Estate revoked the license of a real estate sales person following a conviction of misdemeanor hit and run on a no contest plea. The sales person sought a writ of administrative mandate directing the Bureau to set aside its decision. The court of appeal granted the writ noting that prior to the license revocation the criminal trial court had set aside the sales person's misdemeanor conviction and allowed her to withdraw her plea and plead instead to a basic speed law infraction and dismissed the hit and run charge. Penal Code § bars the use of a nolo contendere plea to a misdemeanor as an admission in a civil action, which includes administrative proceedings, absent a legislative authorization, and there was no legislative authorization in this context.