Superior Court Judge Mark Pierce has found in favor of Mayor Lisa Gillmor in a lawsuit filed against her by Santa Clara University Law School student Brian Exline alleging that Gillmor violated California’s public disclosure laws by not reporting her interest in a Gillmor family business from which she received income, Public Property Advisors, Inc. (PPA).
In a tentative ruling [exline gillmor tentative ruling] published Tuesday, Judge Pierce granted Gillmor’s anti-SLAPP* motion to strike the complaint.
The judge found that Form 700s — public officials’ reports of financial interests — are protected political speech. He also found that Exline didn’t prove that Gillmor’s failure to report her PPA business interest was illegal or that his lawsuit was a public interest action; both of which would preclude an anti-SLAPP motion.
*SLAPP stands for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. California’s anti-SLAPP statute allows a special motion to strike — remove from the record — a complaint if the complaint arises from activity exercising Constitutional rights to petition and free speech, unless the court finds it likely that the plaintiff will prevail on the claim — for example, defamation — or the lawsuit is in the public interest.