One Democratic city council member in California was recently accused of attempting to silence her critics by filing civil harassment restraining orders.
Now, a Superior Court judge has declared Carlsbad City Councilwoman Cori Schumacher’s motions frivolous and ordered her to pay more than $47,000 in legal fees to the constituents she targeted.
Schumacher’s critics fight back
According to the Washington Examiner, the elected official faced opprobrium from local residents for various reasons, including her staunch support for strict COVID-19 mitigation measures.
Two area bloggers, Noel Breem and Laurence Posner, as well as a third individual, Anthony Bona, had detailed their complaints in a series of online posts and social media comments.
In September, Schumacher filed police reports against her critics and sought to obtain restraining orders against them for alleged harassment and threats.
Her critics fought back, however, filing their own suit under the state’s anti-SLAPP — or “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation” — law.
In March, a judge sided with the bloggers and determined that their critiques of the councilwoman constituted protected free speech. At a hearing on Friday, a judge ordered Schumacher to pay the legal fees for Breem and Bona.
Councilwoman faces recall effort
The Examiner further noted that the councilwoman is now facing a recall effort that could result in her removal from the Carlsbad City Council.
A petition currently circulating to initiate her recall claims: “Schumacher created a toxic environment in our city and must be recalled from office before more damage is done.”
It goes on to note that “a Superior Court judge found Schumacher liable for harassment and retaliation against several of her constituents — and her misdeeds could now end up costing taxpayers more than $100,000 in legal fees!”
Breem’s attorney, Scott Talkov, issued a statement declaring that Schumacher “doesn’t understand that the public is allowed to criticize her for virtually any reason” and “thought she could silence her critics and do it by force.”
Instead, the lawyer asserted: “The court told her, ‘No, you can’t do this. This remedy is not available to you.’ This will hit her hard because she doesn’t make a lot as a councilmember.”