Judge denies Torres request for delay of hearing
August 20, 2013
A San Luis Obispo judge denied a request made by CAPSLO Homeless Services Director Dee Torres’s attorney to delay a hearing scheduled for Thursday that could halt a suit Torres filed against private investigator Mike Brennler.
Torres alleges Brennler slandered her in a telephone conversation with her former husband, Charles Barber.
Brennler’s attorney Stew Jenkins claims the suit is a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP). Jenkins has filed an anti-SLAPP motion, which Judge Barry LaBarbera will hear Thursday.
If the anti-SLAPP motion succeeds, the judge will dismiss the suit.
On Tuesday morning, Labarbera rejected attorney Roy Ogden’s request to delay Thursday’s anti-SLAPP hearing. He also denied a request by Ogden to lift a stay on discovery.
The filing of am anti-SLAPP motion triggers a stay on the discovery process. SLAPP stands for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. It is the label applied to lawsuits filed against critics or opponents to prevent them from being involved in controversies.
In court filings, Ogden is attempting to prove that Torres is not a public figure. If Torres is deemed a public figure, she must prove Brennler knew that what he allegedly told Barber was false or probably false.
Brennler stands by his statements to Barber saying he spoke the truth.
Brennler has alleged that Torres has not been truthful in her attempt to prove that she is a private citizen. In a sworn court declaration, Torres stated that she did not campaign for or seek a seat on the San Luis Obispo County Homeless Oversight Council, even though she applied for the position last December.
Torres and Brennler return to court at 9 a.m. on Thursday.