Help Ted Rall Fight the LA Times
I'm Ted Rall. I'm a 53-year-old syndicated political cartoonist, columnist and occasional war correspondent in New York.
This is your chance to help defend free speech and freedom of the press against the police.
This GoFundMe campaign began as an effort to raise funds required by LA Superior Court in response to the LA Times' motion that I post a bond in order to be allowed to be allowed to argue my case against the Times in court. Amazing that anyone would need to pay $75K just to begin a lawsuit! But even more amazing that, thanks to more than 750 generous contributors, the LA Times bond got funded on time!
Now the fight really begins.
This fundraiser remains active for those who want to support my case, Rall v. LA Times et al.
If you'd like to support my fight against corruption and collusion between the LA Times and the LAPD by contributing to my ongoing legal expenses, including court costs and expenses, cross-country travel to attend hearings and consult with my attorneys in LA, please do so here.
About Rall v. LA Times:
In July of 2015, Charlie Beck, Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, colluded with publisher of the Los Angeles Times, Austin Beutner, to terminate award-winning artist Ted Rall from his position as principal Editorial Cartoonist at the LA Times. Their purpose: to censor Rall's consistent, principled criticism of police brutality and corruption.
Charlie Beck, Chief, LAPD
A Rall cartoon mocking Chief Beck.
The LAPD and specifically Beck have been the target of numerous critical Rall cartoons since 2009. In 2015, Beck illegally passed unofficial documents, including a secret audio recording, to the LA Times that supposedly proved that Rall had lied about a police encounter (an arrest for jaywalking) from 2001. He hadn't. These documents were carefully cherry-picked in order to misrepresent the truth and smear Rall.
The audio, made by the arresting officer way back in 2001 (!), was mostly static and noise. The Times said it didn't back Ted's account. But Ted paid to have it "enhanced" (cleaned up). Guess what? It proved Ted had told the truth .
The Times didn't bother to check if the documents or the audio were legitimate. Rall was nevertheless fired within less than a day, without an investigation, without consulting his editors, without even being brought into the office to discuss what actually happened in 2001.
What did they do after they learned they'd screwed up? Most papers would have apologized and Ted would have gone back to work drawing cartoons.
Not the Times.
They forbid their editors from talking to reporters, shut down their website's section for reader comments, censored letters to the editor and refused to discuss the matter with Ted — because the LAPD wouldn't let them.
The May 2015 cartoon by Ted Rall in the LA Times that prompted LAPD Chief Beck to demand Rall's firing.
This violated the paper's own Ethical Guidelines, which state: "People who will be shown in an adverse light must be given a meaningful opportunity to defend themselves. This means making a good-faith effort to give the subject of allegations or criticism sufficient time and information to respond substantively. Whenever possible, the reporter should meet directly with the subject in a sincere effort to understand his or her best arguments."
Austin Beutner, billionaire, ex-publisher, LA Times
Smoking gun: Deposition that reveals the secret meeting between Beutner and Beck, where they conspired to fire Rall as a favor to Beck. Violating its own Ethical Guidelines, the Times continues to protect Beck as an anonymous source.
There is a history of Southern California newspapers colluding with police to fire critical journalists. At the San Diego Union-Tribune in 2009, "anti-cop" members of the editorial board were targeted for dismissal after the LAPPL police union bought stock in the company. At the time of Rall's firing, the LAPD union was the #1 shareholder of Tribune Publishing , the parent company of the Los Angeles Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune . (The police union even gloated over Rall's firing on their blog.)
The Los Angeles Police Protective League's blog gloating over Rall's firing. The LAPPL has since taken it down.
To defend his account of events, Rall hired an audio company to analyze the police audio tape used to fire him. Extensive analysis revealed that Rall had been telling the truth about the encounter all along, but the Times provided no comment and no retraction until three weeks later — only after outrage over Rall's firing went viral online — when they provided their own forensic analysis which supposedly found less evidence on the tape. It later turned out that the Times had again lied to their readers about what their experts had discovered — and the fact that they refused to pay their experts to do a real analysis.
The well-respected journalists at the New York Observer — owned by President Trump's brother-in-law, so hardly on the same page politically — agree that Ted, not the LA Times, told the truth. They even published an editorial supporting him.
Famous best-selling independent journalist Greg Palast says Ted is telling the truth and that the Times needs to take him back .
The publisher of the Pasadena Weekly, where Ted used to draw before he went to the Times, confirms that local law enforcement officials repeatedly pressured him to fire Ted.
The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists has issued a formal statement demanding an independent investigation of the Times' actions.
R.C. Harvey of The Comics Journal, which has been critical of Ted in the past, has a detailed account that supports Ted.
Even right-wing bloggers — Ted is progressive — are on Ted's side.
Angry LA Times subscribers' comments supporting Rall.
In the aftermath of the Ted Rall scandal, Beutner was unceremomiously fired and escorted out of the Times building by security guards. He wasn't even allowed to use his latimes.com email account to say goodbye.
Weeks after being named publisher of the LA Times, the LAPPL gave Austin Beutner its 2014 Badge and Eagle Award for "support[ing] the LAPD in all that they do." Beutner is in the photo on the lower right.
After all this, all Rall wanted was his job back, and a retraction. That's standard journalistic practice. Despite Beutner's ouster, however, the Times continues to attack Rall.
Even after Rall provided copious exonerating evidence to the Times, an Editor’s Note remains online that states the Rall falsified his claim, injuring his professional journalistic reputation. So does a second Times screed doubling down on their false claims.
A third article , about Ted suing them, was written without bothering to call or email Ted for his comment.
What's going on?
Times management can't/won't admit they were wrong, because it would hurt their cozy relationship with the Los Angeles Police Department — their de facto corporate owner, and the source of many of their stories now that they've laid off so many beat reporters.
Now, Ted is suing the LA Times for defamation, wrongful termination, blacklisting and five other counts. As they've tacitly conceded in court, the Times has no legitimate defense, so they're trying to bully their way out of the case by filing stalling and delaying tactics.
Read the entire text of Ted's lawsuit here .
All Ted wants is for a jury of his peers to hear his story. He is confident that they will agree that what the Times did was illegal. Before that can happen, however, Ted has to get past California's notorious "anti-SLAPP" law. According to the LA Times' own editorial board, anti-SLAPP was passed to protect small individuals from big corporations, as when "a deep-pocketed corporation, developer or government official files a lawsuit whose real purpose is to silence a critic, punish a whistleblower or win a commercial dispute."
In this case, however, the Times -- part of a huge $420 million corporation called Tronc (formerly Tribune Publishing) -- is Goliath pretending to be David, turning the statute on its head in order to try to bankrupt Ted into a "pay to play" legal maneuver. Under anti-SLAPP, Rall has to prove that he is likely to prevail in his lawsuit before he begins depositions, discovery, and the actual lawsuit process...which are likely to reveal more skullduggery among corrupt Times officials.
The Times has backed away from their assertions that Ted lied, as they realize that they have made a huge mistake. Now, they’re trying to prevail through technicalities. The Times' lawyer Kelli Sager of the pro-corporation law firm Davis Wright Tremaine filed a motion demanding that Rall post a whopping $300,000 bond . This is in case the Times wins their disgusting anti-SLAPP motion, which would allow the Times to be awarded their attorneys' fees...to be paid for by Ted.
Fortunately, the judge ordered the amount reduced to $75,000. Still, that's a lot of money. Most states ask for a few hundred bucks, maybe a thousand. It's a lot more money than Ted, who earned $300/week at the Times, has access to.
Which is where you came in. More than 750 supporters came through with $75,000!
But that was just the beginning. The Times' lawyers are aggressive, highly-paid and well-connected — and ruthless. They will do anything they can to stop the Times from being held accountable, including destroying Ted.
The Times filed three anti-SLAPP motions against Ted. On June 21, 2017 a judge heard the one by the individual defendants at the Times (ex-publisher Austin Beutner, editorial page editor Nick Goldberg, reporter Paul Pringle and ombudsman Deirdre Edgar). After a timid and tepid defense by his lawyer during oral arguments, Ted lost that hearing.
That loss is automatically appealable, and Ted will appeal.
That left two more anti-SLAPP hearings, one against the LA Times and Tronc, the other against another Tribune entity.
After the June 21st hearing, Ted asked his law firm to meet to discuss strategy. They refused. Instead, they fired Ted as their client just days before the key LA Times/Tronc anti-SLAPP hearing.
Ted scrambled to find new lawyers. He succeeded! But the Times refused to give his new counsel time to review what Newsweek calls "one of the more contentious fights in journalism today ." So Ted ended up having to argue oral arguments himself pro se — which he did, for more than two hours, on July 14, 2017.
If Ted loses one or both of those anti-SLAPPs — he did well but he's not a lawyer — he'll appeal. If he wins, the Times will probably appeal. So this will go to the Court of Appeals either way.
We're awaiting the ruling.
Ted could lose everything. If the Court of Appeals rules against Ted, a judgement awarding the Times' legal fees would be entered in the amount of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
One of Ted's Facebook friends recently posted something that explains what this is all about:
I am speaking out of turn, but having followed Mr. Rall's writings/cartoons for greater than 20 years, I believe Mr. Rall recognizes that the final decision of the court is immaterial. A win would be nice, but the point is to stand up, to fight against injustice. To take a stand, regardless of the cost. I imagine Mr. Rall spoke with several attorneys who advised him to let this go, that even a positive result wouldn't justify the financial costs and emotional toil. (At least I hope someone told him this.)
Mr. Rall is smart enough to realize that the sure path to financial success is to ally one's self with the powers that be, and to gang up on the under-dog. He clearly has eschewed this path.
Ted will continue this fight. But he hasn't gotten this far by himself and he can't keep it going without your help.
Your pledge helps to keep our fight going. Your pledge tells the LAPD and other police agencies that interfering with the free press and with editorial commentary is not acceptable behavior. Sadly, Ted's case is not unique. In Oregon, police conspired with a hard-hitting reporter's publisher to fire him because he editorialized against their illegal searches of high school kids during a basketball game.
Your pledge tells newspapers that kowtowing to local authorities and law enforcement is a violation of their public trust, and that using a newspaper as a vehicle to stifle legitimate criticism of police misconduct will not be tolerated.
Help Ted get justice and show the media that journalists cannot be bullied!
A cartoon by Ted Rall in the Los Angeles Times making fun of LAPD Chief Charlie Beck.
If they rule for the Times (the defendant), my defamation and wrongful termination case ends. I will have to pay the Times hundreds of thousands of dollars in their padded $715-an-hour fees.
More importantly, losing my case would be a major defeat for anyone who works for what a California court defines as an employer of a "media company" with First Amendment rights: a newspaper, a magazine, a website, a social media platform, any number of Silicon Valley tech companies. If I lose, it means the Times' argument that they can defame, retaliate and discriminate against their employers — even for sexist, racist or homophobic reasons — would become case law. Any "media" company in the state would become exempt from these important protections.
That's why I'm fighting so hard. It's not just for me. Tens of thousands of California workers, most of whom have never heard of me or my case, are in danger of losing their rights because of the Times' reckless arguments.
In summer 2017 the Times won its abusive anti-SLAPP motions against me in LA Superior Court. We believe that Court made a number of errors in its decision that will be corrected when the Court of Appeals considers my case "de novo" — without considering the decision of the lower court.
Earlier this summer we filed our Opening Brief in the Court of Appeals. The Times filed its Respondents Brief. Now we've filed our response to their brief. There will be no more filings.
Next the Court will schedule oral arguments. They will either rule from the bench right there and then or issue their decision in writing shortly thereafter.
Some of you have asked whether Dr. Pat Soon-Shiong, the biotechnology entrepreneur and physician who purchased the Times earlier this year, has tried to resolve my case. The answer is no. Upon acquiring the Times Dr. Soon-Shiong said he intended to turn over a new leaf at an institution infamous for mismanagement and corruption; we still have yet to see any sign of improvement.
Thank you for your support. The fight for a free press continues.
Here's the latest on Rall v. LA Times.
As you may recall, the Times won their anti-SLAPP motion against me in LA Superior Court, and we are appealing that to the Court of Appeals.
We're optimistic, but in the meantime the Times has filed their attorneys' fees with the Court and is demanding that I pay them $340,000. That's right — the LA Times defamed me, and now they're abusing the law to try to bankrupt me!
There's a court hearing about the Times' insane legal bills on November 20; if you'd like to attend please let me know.
Among the highlights:
Times lawyer Kelli Sager charges $705 an hour to defend them against the people they libel, instead of simply publishing a retraction and an apology for their lies. No wonder newspapers are in financial trouble!
One of the defendant corporate entities, Tribune Media, ceased to relate to newspapers in a complicated restructuring that my previous lawyer didn't know about. Sager was supposed to tell my former lawyer; that's standard legal ethics. She didn't. Yet she is billing more than $30,000 just defending that defendant...when she could simply have told my lawyer for the cost of a phone call.
If the Times wins on November 20th, they will likely go after the $75,000 bond posted in 2016 as a result of a previous court order. If that happens and I prevail at appeal, we'll get it back.
Thank you for your support and, if you've been following the fight between Disney and the LA Times, remember: the LA Times are not First Amendment heroes.
The original judge in my case, Teresa Sanchez-Gordon, retired. That was a bummer for me because she seemed to understand the case and its importance, and for the most part, she ruled in my favor. LA Superior Court handed the LA Times' anti-SLAPP motion against me over to a temporary substitute judge, a retired gentleman brought back for a few months in order to help the court dig out of its formidable backlog. Judge Joseph Kalin informed us that he had over 500 cases on his docket. He also said that he had read all of the documents in my case over the previous week. Considering that they are over a foot high and amount to thousands of pages, call me skeptical. No human being could possibly handle all that work.
Adding to the challenge was getting sabotaged by my own lawyers. Rather than send a seasoned litigator to argue the crucial anti-SLAPP hearings (of which three were scheduled), Shegerian & Associates sent a junior associate just a few of years out of law school to argue against Times attorney Kelli Sager, a veteran litigator with decades of experience at a major white-shoe law firm that represents giant corporations trying to crush workers. She was timid, unprepared and failed to fight back when Sager said things that simply weren't true. Unsurprisingly, the judge ruled against me.
With two more hearings to go, I asked the firm to send out the litigator that we had agreed upon. Carney Shegerian responded with a Notice of Termination. That's right: my own lawyer fired me! It's not because I was rude or anything like that. I wasn't. I don't know why he did it but I do know that other lawyers tell me that this kind of behavior, dumping a client right before a crucial hearing, is highly unethical.
I managed to find a new attorney in time for the next hearing, but Judge Kalin refused to grant me a continuance to allow my new lawyer time to familiarize himself with my case, and forced me to do my own oral argument. Naturally, the Times lawyer didn't grant me the basic courtesy of a continuance. All along, they have been playing by scorched-earth tactics.
OK, so I did better than the junior litigator: the judge acknowledged that I had told the truth about my jaywalking arrest in 2001. Which means that the Times never should have written those two articles libeling me and that they should have retracted them and that they should have hired me back immediately. Instead, Judge Kalin ruled that, as a newspaper, the First Amendment gives the Times the right to publish anything, even lies, because of the anti-SLAPP law. Strike two.
Now we go to the Court of Appeals, where we will ask the Court to reverse Judge Kalin's ruling.
I have a sharp new legal team for the appeal: appellate attorney Jeff Lewis and trial lawyer Roger Lowenstein. We've been strategizing and I feel we have a strong case base on the both the content and the spirit of the law, not to mention precedent.
We are drafting our appellate brief, which for anti-SLAPP the court considers de novo, or without consideration for the lower-court ruling. Then the Times gets to respond. Then the court sets a hearing date. Best guess right now is that the appeal will be heard in mid-2018.
If we prevail at that stage, then the case really begins: discovery, subpoenas, depositions of Times employees, etc. If we lose, that's it. And I'll owe the Times hundreds of thousands of dollars in THEIR legal fees. Anti-SLAPP is brutal and desperately needs reform to stop these megacorporations from abusing it to crush individual plaintiffs.
In the meantime, I will be incurring substantial costs related to the case, so if you feel inclined to support my fight against the collusion between the LA Times and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, you can help out at http://gofundme.com/tedrall.
The bond was filed with LA Superior Court via a bond company in 2016. So the court has the money.
Under California's anti-SLAPP law, the ruling against me on anti-SLAPP is appealable to the Court of Appeals. I am appealing. I have filed the notice to the court telling them that I am appealing. But it could take a year or more before that appeal is heard.
In the meantime, I learned recently from my new lawyers, the LA Times can start collections proceedings for the legal fees they claim they've accrued filing their anti-SLAPP motions. Here's what happens:
The Times will submit their (likely padded) bills to the court. Eventually, the court will issue a judgement against me for some amount. They're allowed to go after me even before my appeal is heard.
The Times will probably ask the court to give them the $75,000 bond to apply to their legal bills.
If they do, and the court consents, then the Times gets the money.
If I win my appeal, my lawyers will ask the court to order the Times to give it back. Given the way they've behaved so far, I expect the Times to drag their feet and try to avoid returning it. But we'll keep after them, and when we get the money back we'll issue the money back to you donors who asked to get it back should I prevail. (The vast majority of donors did not want it back, FYI.)
If I lose the appeal, then my case goes away and the Times keeps the money. Since a judgement would likely exceed $75,000 at that point, a judgement for the remaining amount would be filed against me.
I expect to win the appeal since the lower court judge made some major mistakes in his ruling.
Thank you for your support!
Ya know...Rall is an asshole, there's no doubt about that. But in this case he is definitely getting screwed! When I criticize him, I do it for comments and cartoons he actually writes and draws...I have no problem holding him accountable for that! So go get em' Ted! I look forward to you going back to your job so that I can take pot shots at ya!
From our experience as pro se litigants, the judge saying 'no more continuances' would not apply to a client who has been abandoned by their attorney (in possible breach of ethics) and client needs more time to secure new representation. It's partly because the courts value the contributions of lawyers so highly that they would not want to force you to go pro se unless that was your preference or you had been derelict in seeking new counsel. Be prepared to convey that you wanted to respect the Court's wishes to not continue again but you have been unable to find substitute counsel despite working diligently at it. Bring a clear and concise record of everything you have done to obtain substitute counsel. If you have an atty you are friendly with they might advise you/appear on your behalf on an emergency basis just to get past this step and get more time. But from our experience if you are being respectful and trying your best the Court should grant you more time at their own discretion.
It's great to see Ted's update, but don't forget that we are trying to raise money with another campaign as well, which hasn't yet reached the original goal of $15,000 (although another $23.00 was logged today). 9w3cezxg Ted, I'm still looking to post an update to that campaign.
I'm delighted that the money happened. I hope it helped that I put a link on facebook, urging donations.
Early on, Rall said something like, "I want the record cleared, my job back and an apology." If Rall's friend is right and (to say it in the worst possible way) Rall wants to make an example of the Times, then the best thing they could do is to apologize and offer to settle. If he really is such an troublemaker, then nothing would toast his cookies more than if everyone started acting like adults. And I don't think he's just a troublemaker.
We did well pro se – and you can as well – but it took us a while to learn that the social cues of the process are at least as important as the logic of applying law to the facts. Lawyers know it is critical to signal respect for judges (e.g., proper 'Your Honor' language; always wearing a suit, which you should do as well even if it's from a thrift store) and the procedures that keep the thousands of cases moving swiftly along (e.g., minimizing requests for special treatment in continuances). See yourself through the judge's eyes as one among thousands of cases, each convinced of their merit and importance, and don't ask for anything that isn't generic to the system. Separate your desire to talk about how just your cause is from respect for The Court, and be sure you grasp and communicate the latter.
It would be great if you could get hooked up with Jared Beck!
Have they brought a motion to withdraw? From CA rules of professional conduct: Rule 3-700. Termination of Employment. (A) In General. (1) If permission for termination of employment is required by the rules of a tribunal, a member shall not withdraw from employment in a proceeding before that tribunal without its permission. (2) A member shall not withdraw from employment until the member has taken reasonable steps to avoid reasonably foreseeable prejudice to the rights of the client, including giving due notice to the client, allowing time for employment of other counsel, complying with rule 3-700(D), and complying with applicable laws and rules. ... (C) Permissive Withdrawal. If rule 3-700(B) is not applicable, a member may not request permission to withdraw in matters pending before a tribunal, and may not withdraw in other matters, unless such request or such withdrawal is because: (1) The client (a) insists upon presenting a claim or defense that is not warranted under existing law and cannot be supported by good faith argument for an extension, modification, or reversal of existing law, or (b) seeks to pursue an illegal course of conduct, or (c) insists that the member pursue a course of conduct that is illegal or that is prohibited under these rules or the State Bar Act, or (d) by other conduct renders it unreasonably difficult for the member to carry out the employment effectively, or (e) insists, in a matter not pending before a tribunal, that the member engage in conduct that is contrary to the judgment and advice of the member but not prohibited under these rules or the State Bar Act, or (f) breaches an agreement or obligation to the member as to expenses or fees. (2) The continued employment is likely to result in a violation of these rules or of the State Bar Act; or (3) The inability to work with co-counsel indicates that the best interests of the client likely will be served by withdrawal; or (4) The member's mental or physical condition renders it difficult for the member to carry out the employment effectively; or (5) The client knowingly and freely assents to termination of the employment; or (6) The member believes in good faith, in a proceeding pending before a tribunal, that the tribunal will find the existence of other good cause for withdrawal.
Did you and/or the judge give permission for the atty withdrawal? Seems like a violation of the code of conduct to leave you at this critical juncture. In any event, did you try the Electronic Frontier Foundation? https://www.eff.org/pages/legal-assistance
Imagine you should be able to get a continuance?
It looks like you got what you needed and then some. Congratulations! WHY CAN'T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG? Good luck to you
no book yet