FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: April 18, 2023
Susan Seager, UC Irvine School of Law - (949) 824-5447; email@example.com
Dan Stormer, Hadsell Stormer Renick & Dai, LLP - (626) 585-9600; firstname.lastname@example.org
JOURNALIST BEN CAMACHO MOVES TO DISMISS THE CITY OF LOS ANGELES’ UNCONSTITUTIONAL AND RETALIATORY LAWSUIT
Camacho fights back against the City's attempt to intimidate and silence him by filing an anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss the lawsuit
PASADENA, CA (APRIL 18, 2023)—Today journalist Ben Camacho joined lawyers from the UC Irvine School of Law’s Press Freedom Project, civil rights law firm Hadsell Stormer Renick & Dai, LLP, and the Law Office of Colleen Flynn in filing an anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss the City of Los Angeles’ unconstitutional and retaliatory lawsuit against him.
“The City of Los Angeles’ lawsuit is a transparent attempt to silence Mr. Camacho and other journalists who report on law enforcement,” said HSRD attorney Dan Stormer. “The real motives behind this lawsuit are to unconstitutionally shield the Los Angeles Police Department from any measure of accountability and transparency. If the LAPD was really interested in stopping crime, it would file against the City of Los Angeles for the crime of trampling on the First Amendment.”
On April 5, 2023, the City of Los Angeles filed a lawsuit against Mr. Camacho seeking an unconstitutional order to stop Mr. Camacho from publishing government records that the City gave him six months ago. In September of 2022, the City provided Mr. Camacho the official photographs, names, and serial numbers for more than 9,000 Los Angeles Police Department officers as settlement of Mr. Camacho’s Public Records Act lawsuit. The City also provided Mr. Camacho a letter saying that the records did not include any officers working “undercover.”
“Similar to other CPRA requests I’ve made in the past, I requested these records to advance my work, including documentary filmmaking and investigations into policing in Los Angeles,” said journalist Ben Camacho. “Access to police records brings transparency and awareness to the otherwise secret inner workings of the LAPD, an organization that receives billions of dollars from the public.”
Last month, the Los Angeles Times published an article reporting that Mr. Camacho obtained the photographs and that they were published online by the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition. The City of Los Angeles responded by filing the lawsuit against Mr. Camacho, seeking to both suppress Mr. Camacho’s First Amendment rights and curtail the public’s access to important public records. The City now claims for the first time that it made a mistake and inadvertently included photographs and names of some officers who work in “sensitive assignments.”
“The City gave Ben these photographs and it can’t stop him from publishing them because that would be government censorship in violation of the First Amendment,” said UCI Press Freedom Project attorney Susan Seager. “It also would be futile now that the photographs have been published all over the internet.”
The records provided to Mr. Camacho are a matter of public interest because they allow the public and journalists to monitor police officers as they work in public, including making arrests and using force. In violation of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, the City is seeking to block a journalist from reporting on matters of public concern and punish him for lawfully obtaining government records.
In their motion, Mr. Camacho and his attorneys ask the Court to strike the City’s Complaint, effectively dismissing the meritless case against him. Mr. Camacho and his attorneys will continue to fight to protect his First Amendment rights and keep these records public.
Mr. Camacho and his attorneys are available for interviews.
About The Press Freedom Project
The Press Freedom Project is a program of the UC Irvine School of Law Intellectual Property, Arts, and Technology Clinic. The Project was founded in Spring 2018 to provide free legal services to California’s independent journalists, non-profit news organizations, journalism groups, and press advocacy groups. The Project is headed by nationally known First Amendment and media law specialist Susan Seager. To learn more, visit https://ipat.law.uci.edu/pressfreedom/.
About Hadsell Stormer Renick & Dai, LLP
Hadsell Stormer Renick & Dai, LLP is one of the largest and most successful civil rights firms in the country, pursuing justice through individual and class action lawsuits, legal services, education, and community-based efforts. HSRD lawyers are leaders in the civil rights community and litigate cases that are often precedent-setting. To learn more, visit www.hadsellstormer.com.