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Re: “Sandbox Brawl

Dear Editor: As the defendant in Kaplan v. Salahi, I was most distressed to read Mr. Singer-vine's coverage of the affair. It is difficult to understand the framing of what has happened as a sandbox brawl: every brawl, after all, has a bully, and in this case one has to wonder whether the bully was the well-paid and middle-aged journalist or the third year college student in his teens. Nevertheless, while the spat between Kaplan and myself may be entirely juvenile (I am inclined to agree with this), the moment it entered the legal sphere it should have become something of concern to everybody in the state of California, especially considering that it involved one of the most fundamental rights guaranteed by our constitution's first amendment. In California, defendants in defamation lawsuits are guaranteed certain special protections under the anti-SLAPP statute. My attorney had written and filed a strong anti-SLAPP motion to have the case dismissed, but the judge refused to consider the motion on the grounds that it was inappropriate for small claims court. This may be true, given that small claims court is a mess, and really not that far off from what you see on Judge Judy or The People's Court. But if that is the case then it is equally true that defamation cases, in all their complexity (which you rightly noted), are similarly inappropriate for small claims court. Indeed, a number of other states around the country do not allow plaintiffs to bring defamation claims in small claims court. There is good reason for this because it directly involves our rights under the first amendment, and has the potential to endanger or punish our legitimate exercise of those rights. While for me personally this lawsuit means that I am $7500 in debt, for everybody else in the state of California, I hope it is also a wake-up call that will lead to productive reform of the system by removing defamation suits from the jurisdiction of small claims court. That, besides refusing to be silenced by Kaplan's evolving forms of intimidation, is now one of my goals in state politics. I hope that others can look past the muddled stories to recognize this fact at the very least, and will do what they can to prevent this from happening again to somebody else. Yaman Salahi Lee Kaplan Watch - for more information about my views on the ruling, the trial, and their implications

0 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Anonymous on 06/27/2007 at 9:55 AM

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