Dee Torres is public figure, judge says

August 23, 2013
CAPLO's Dee Torres

CAPSLO’s Dee Torres

Dee Torres is a public figure, San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Barry LaBarbera said Thursday, seriously undermining the homeless program official’s slander lawsuit against Atascadero private investigator Michael Brennler.

Torres, director of homeless services for Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo (CAPSLO), filed the action against Brennler in March, claiming he defamed her during a phone conversation with Torres’s former husband, Charles Barber. In that conversation, Torres asserted, Brennler harmed her by allegedly saying she stole money from homeless clients at the homeless shelter, as well as from former CAPSLO client Cliff Anderson.

Brennler vehemently denied he made any such comments.

When Torres’ lawyer, Roy Ogden, told the court he had not seen a portion of declarations filed by Brennler, LaBarbera delayed his final ruling to September 3.

During Thursday’s hearing, Ogden said CalCoastNews “published a lot of nasty things about my client.” At one point, he said CalCoastNews is “yellow journalism” and pointed to CCN reporter and co-founder Karen Velie in the courtroom,  suggesting Brennler is “an affiliate” of the news service.

Following the hearing, Velie said Ogden’s claim of a “smear campaign” was untrue.

“That’s a tactic used when people do not want to address the real issues,” Velie said.

LeBarbera said in a tentative ruling issued Wednesday that Torres had not proven that Brennler acted with malice. A public figure is faced with a very high bar in order to prove actual malice. The judge also said the question of homeless services and protection of those in CAPSLO programs is a matter of public interest. Ogden argued to the contrary, saying the news service simply created “a public curiosity” around the issue.

When Torres filed the lawsuit, Brennler was voluntarily working with CalCoastNews on an investigation into treatment of homeless persons in San Luis Obispo County. The news website has published numerous articles this year reporting on financial and management improprieties by Torres and other management-level individuals at CAPSLO.

Responding to her lawsuit, Brennler’s attorney, Stewart Jenkins, filed an anti-SLAPP motion, used to strike a lawsuit filed to silence criticism.

Jenkins said any phone call made by Brennler would have been for the purpose of further investigation of allegations against Torres made by a host of other people.

In requesting the continuation, Ogden claimed he did not receive a declaration by Torres’ ex-boyfriend Ralph Almiorl, who alleges Torres misused gift cards donated to the homeless.

Jenkins said he served the declaration on August 15 and has proof of service.

If LaBarbera stays with his tentative ruling, the anti-SLAPP motion will succeed and Torres will have to pay Brennler’s legal fees.

 


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Cindy

I have to laugh at Hill and his cronies.


One day they’re claiming that CCN is a rag that no one reads and then the next day, they’re claiming that CCN turns ordinary people into well known public figures of interest! Go figure………..


PaulJones

I have to laugh at this face book post to Amirol from Hill:


Hill – “You agree to write up a statement admitting that you lied about Dee, revealing how that website and their PI worked with you, and you don’t get sued. Otherwise, you get sued and you will need a lawyer and more $$$.”


Almiorl must be having a good laugh too. Yup he would need a lawyer and it would be more $$ that Hill would have to pay for that lawyer, LOL , what a doofus.


MaryMalone

QUOTING PAULJONES POST (WHICH QUOTES HILL): “You agree to write up a statement admitting that you lied about Dee, revealing how that website and their PI worked with you, and you don’t get sued. Otherwise, you get sued and you will need a lawyer and more $$$.


“…and more money”?


What does that reference? Has Amirol already been paid money by Hill or another party?


MaryMalone

QUOTING PAULJONES: “Hill – “You agree to write up a statement admitting that you lied about Dee, revealing how that website and their PI worked with you, and you don’t get sued. Otherwise, you get sued and you will need a lawyer and more $$$.”


BTW…does anyone know if Hill’s attempts to tamper with, and intimidate, witnesses is being investigated?


Or is the County–as is their usual practice–going to just let that d-bag get away with it?


MaryMalone

They should pay attention to current events.


Today I tried to look at a Tribune article and you have to pay to access now.


I think CCN’s readership is going to increase, starting in the near future.


TruthFairy

If you have any kind of subscription at the Trib, say a weekend subscription, you can log on free. I do not think the people will start looking at ccn. I know you hope they will but unless they start reporting the news instead of trying to manipulate the news, or self fulfill the story by leaving out the facts, then I think their reputation will keep people from reading it. No, their readership won’t increase.


MaryMalone

Do you actually read the Tribune?


They are purveyors of “press-release journalism.” Other than the multi-part Paso water series recently published, the Tribune has a habit of just repeating in print whatever the person they should be investigating says (or writes in a press release).


During the period when CCN was covering the huge raw-sewage spill by the SSLOCSD (run by John Wallace at the time), there was one instance when, if you pulled up The Wallace Group’s press release, you could hold it up to the Tribune’s “article” they finally published about it, and see where the Tribune just regurgitated what the press release said.


karma2come

Are you serious? Look where you are posting and reading! I guess that means you Truth fairy, must be a party or vested person, in what’s being investigated or you wouldn’t be one here! That being the case; enlighten us oh truthful one!!! Gives something to prove credibility! But, if I’m wrong, explain why you bash the reporting you obviously read, your comments are all over these pages!!!


ironyman2000

Torres cannot claim to be defamed unless she’s famed in the first place. But she claims not to be that.

She claims she is so famous that a phone call between two people hurts her. Hurts what?

Her reputation? Her fame? Her infamy? A conundrum to be sure.

Torres problem is she is deluded, disgusting and debunked.


MaryMalone

QUOTING THE ARTICLE: “At one point, he said CalCoastNews is “yellow journalism” and pointed to CCN reporter and co-founder Karen Velie in the courtroom…


———


I’m glad Ogden had his “j’accuse! moment.


Is there anyone associated with Hill who is not a drama queen? Sheesh.


leatherpink

It’s interesting how Dee Torres and Adam Hill are liberals and then you have the liberal paper the Telegram Tribune, that refuses to write about this story and then Dee Torres and Adam Hill are bashing Dave Congalton, who is also a liberal bringing this story on the air and which they are also bashing Cal Coast News as well as I suspect is a liberal news paper as well, which I don’t have a problem with. My view is I am a republican but between this mess, I support Karen’s story and her truthfulness to tell the story to the public and about the incident over the DUI issue as well. For Adam Hill, Dee Torres and Bruce Gibson (another liberal) to use phony user names and phony email accounts by going after Cal Coast News advertisers is pretty rotten, yes I know it’s their income but how they’re doing it, especially Adam Hill, is disgraceful. I know a lot of people voted for Jerry Lenthall in 2004 and then voted for Adam Hill in in 2008 but a lot of people now regret voting for Adam Hill.


Now where does this story end? Is there any conservative in this mess?


MaryMalone

I agree with most of your opinion, and I would like to raise an issue for your consideration.


When you see the world in black and white (or, in the case, liberal or conservative), then you are seeing the issue through fogged-up glasses.


While there are times when someone’s political flavor my impact the issue, in this instance I don’t this this is one of those times.


“Liberal” and “conservative” have nothing to do with the Hill/Torres issue. That is because avarice and greed, retaliation and revenge are themes that cross all political lines.


SLOTECH90

In formaldebate and logical argumentation circles, this is called the false dichotomy fallacy.


tojofay

Get off your “liberal and conservative” pony will ya? Those terms mean nothing. Especially in this case.

Oh yeah, bring Andy Caldwell into this that will be helpful.


OnTheOtherHand

If you see all — or even most — issues in conservative vs. liberal or democrat vs. republican terms, you have probably been subtly brainwashed into accepting definitions of those terms by people who have heavily vested interests in getting you to think the way they want you to think. This blind acceptance of definitions is usually accompanied by equally blind acceptance of their perspectives on issues.


This is not to say they are always wrong or that the opponents never are. It is just that the spokespeople for both sides are less than honest and willing to distort or outright lie when it suits their agenda. Please do yourself and society a favor and get both sides of issues and be skeptical of them even then. Often neither side is being honest. It is more difficult and time-consuming to figure out the truth for yourself but you are also more likely to get it right if you keep at it.


Sarah Bellum

“Ogden argued to the contrary, saying the news service simply created ‘a public curiosity’ around the issue.”


That really sticks in my craw. I wonder how he could say that with a straight face.


MaryMalone

QUOTING SARAH: “I wonder how he could say that with a straight face.


Lots of practice at lying.


TruthFairy

Too bad. You would think he would WANT to go to court. See that is the double standard. It isn’t about saving the homeless. It is about saving Mike’s butt. I read by one or more bloggers on this site, where DEE put up the SLAPP suit and doesn’t want to go to court. Not true. That was Jenkins, for Mike. Dee must have wanted to go to court. She is the one suing. Not MIKE. Why wouldn’t Mike want to go to court to expose DEE???


Cindy

It’s important for people to know that they don’t have to be intimidated by Dee Torres for telling what they know about her misappropriations. Most people are afraid to be sued and can be threatened into shutting up rather than speaking out. CAPSLO hired a San Francisco law firm a couple of months ago for the purpose of scaring witnesses. That law firm sent threatening letters to all the witnesses that they knew of (about 10) telling them that if they didn’t recant that they would be sued for slander. Now everybody knows that they can’t be sued for telling the truth or making inquires.


Long live freedom of speech. Pay the bill Torres, your intimidation tactics are down the drain and I hear it will cost you about 50K and it serves you right.


MaryMalone

Not everybody who files a lawsuit actually wants to go to court. Surely, you are aware of that? Or is this a new concept for you?


Sometimes a lawsuit is filed to gain time so that the filing party can destroy evidence. Other times it is done to intimidate the opposing party. Sometimes it is done out of anger and to seek revenge and/or retaliation.


TruthFairy

Again with the destroying evidence. The accusation that she stole gift cards, was coming from 13 years ago…Certainly you have heard of the statute of limitation?


MaryMalone

LOL, as IF her thievery of the gift cards is the only thing of which she has been accused.


I can’t wait to find out how Family Ties and CAPSLO’s homeless operations which Torres directs are linked. I guess federal investigations take a long time to resolve.


Cindy

Seems odd that Ogden didn’t receive the Amirol declaration when Stew has a proof of service. I’m not sure why Roy would want to drag this out, it’s clear that he can’t prove malice and Dee isn’t going to be able to shut people up and stymy this investigation.


The fact of the matter is that there truly is no malice here. There is an honest belief that all the allegations have a basis of truth to them. There are simply too many people who all say the same thing regarding those gift cards and other items and there are more than a couple of first hand witnesses. Dee would do well to just answer the questions rather than trying to hide all this under a rock. Long live the press and freedom of speech.


MaryMalone

QUOTING CINDY: “I’m not sure why Roy would want to drag this out, it’s clear that he can’t prove malice and Dee isn’t going to be able to shut people up and stymy this investigation.”


———


Because Hill and Torres are paying Ogden to drag it out?


I continue to believe that one of the reasons for filing this stupid lawsuit was to give Dee time to destroy evidence.


scoopone

The walls of justice are closing in.


TruthFairy

You mean Dee’s suit won’t go forward?


bobfromsanluis

I wonder how many times Roy Ogden successfully used the “Um, I forgot my homework” excuse during his years as a student …


racket

Yes. His reputation is much better than that. I wonder what is up.


racket

Snide addendum: Perhaps Ogden is subject to the immutable fact that everything Adam Hill touches eventually turns to sh!t.


SLOBIRD

This is very sad to see Mr. Ogden look so incompetent. He has had a great reputation and was a respected attorney. Very strange situation!


MaryMalone

“When you lay down with dogs, you get up with fleas.”


–Jean Harlow.


MaryMalone

I still think part of the reason for this lawsuit is to buy time so evidence can be destroyed and witnesses can be intimidated.


If this is the case, with Ogden’s experience, surely he knows what is going on. He is a fool to play the patsy, if this is the case.


MaryMalone

Actions speak louder than words.


I think Ogren’s reputation is better than is Ogren’s behavior.