Bradbury v. Superior Court

In 1992, deputy sheriff Gary Spencer shot and killed a citizen during execution of a search warrant in California. Following an investigation by the district attorney, the deputy was exonerated.

However, the district attorney’s public report of the investigation questioned the veracity of the affidavit supporting the search warrant, suggesting that the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department was “motivated, at least in part, by a desire to seize and forfeit the ranch for the government…. Based in part upon the possibility of forfeiture, Spencer obtained a search warrant that was not supported by probable cause.”

Spencer sued the district attorney for slander, who brought an anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss the case. The trial court denied the motion, but the court of appeals reversed, holding that the state’s anti-SLAPP statute applies to public employees who issue reports and comment on issues of public interest relating to their official duties. 

See Bradbury v. Superior Court, 49 Cal.App.4th 1108 (1996).