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Anderson v. Geist

California Court of Appeals, Fourth District, Second Division

April 22, 2015

CONNIE ANDERSON, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
STEVE GEIST et al., Defendants and Appellants.

APPEAL from the Superior Court of San Bernardino County, No. CIVRS1200213. Gilbert Ochoa, Judge.

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COUNSEL

Jean-Rene Basle, County Counsel, and James H. Thebeau, Deputy County Counsel, for Defendants and Appellants.

No appearance for Plaintiff and Respondent.

OPINION

HOLLENHORST J.

Plaintiff and respondent Connie Anderson alleges that deputies of the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department unlawfully entered her residence on two occasions, attempting to arrest her daughter pursuant to a bench warrant that had already been recalled, and in the process making defamatory statements to her neighbors. Defendants and appellants Steve Geist and Daniel Shelton (defendants) are two of the sheriff’s deputies alleged to have committed these acts.[1]

Defendants appeal from the trial court’s denial of their special motion to strike the complaint as a strategic lawsuit against public participation (anti-SLAPP motion) pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure[2] section 425.16 (the anti-SLAPP statute). They contend they met their burden to show plaintiff’s causes of action arise from activity protected by the anti-SLAPP statute, and that plaintiff failed to meet her burden of showing a probability she would prevail on the merits, so the trial court should have granted their anti-SLAPP motion. This contention rests, however, on a question that no previous published California case has addressed: whether a peace officer’s execution of a warrant is protected activity under the anti-SLAPP statute. For the reasons discussed below, we answer the question in the negative, at least under the circumstances of this case. We therefore agree with the trial court

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that defendants did not meet their burden on the first part of the anti-SLAPP analysis, and affirm the trial court’s ruling.

I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff filed her lawsuit in propria persona on January 10, 2012. In her first amended complaint, filed on April 23, 2012, she alleges that on December 25, 2010, three deputy sheriffs, including defendants, entered her residence, seeking to execute a warrant for the arrest her daughter. Neither plaintiff nor her daughter was in the house at the time; several tenants of plaintiff were present. Plaintiff alleges, among other things, that in the course of this incident, Deputy Geist made statements “to the neighborhood” that “everyone” in plaintiff’s residence was a ...


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