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Judge dismisses one case, two respondents file anti-SLAAP motions against Schumacher

CARLSBAD — A judge dismissed one case and continued two others until Dec. 15 in the first hearing regarding Councilwoman Cori Schumacher’s temporary restraining order against three current and former Carlsbad residents.

During the Oct. 15 hearing, Schumacher’s case against 77-year-old Larry Posner was dismissed with prejudice, while the cases against Noel Breen and Anthony Bona were continued until Dec. 15.

However, Breen and Bona have each filed anti-SLAAP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) motions against Schumacher. Those cases will also be heard on Dec. 15 in conjunction with TRO cases, the judge ruled.

Posner, meanwhile, railed against Schumacher’s action against him and his opposition to her political agenda and actions on the City Council. His attorney, Steven Brumer, is also seeking $5,000 in attorney’s fees from Schumacher.

“What Cori tried to do is an abomination, especially for someone who says they’re going to law school at night,” Posner said. “There was no merit to the case. The only reason I didn’t go forward with a SLAAP suit … it’s not fun. I’m 77, I have prostate cancer … and that’s just the start of it. I won’t engage with someone who can’t afford the winnings.”

Breen’s attorney, Philip Mauriello Jr., said in the filing Schumacher has called out Breen several times in public and blocked his wife, Linda Breen, from Schumacher’s official city Facebook account. The motion alleges blocking users from social media pages violating the First Amendment, citing a case against President Donald Trump.

Noel Breen, who moved out of Carlsbad about two years ago, also writes a political blog and has been critical of Schumacher for several years. Additionally, the motion says Schumacher “cannot cite to any instance on Respondent’s (sic) blog where he threatened or harassed her.”

The motion also lays out another instance of “suppressing or curbing” Noel Breen’s protected speech, citing three previous TROs against Breen in December 2018 that were “nearly identical petitions” and “filed within minutes of each other.”

Those were filed by Amanda Mascia, former campaign manager for Schumacher, Lisa McKethan, Schumacher’s campaign field organizer in 2016 and 2018, and Sue Alderson, a supporter of Schumacher, and dismissed on Jan. 4, 2019.

“Councilwoman Schumacher clearly does not like being in the public eye when her constituents begin to criticize her actions,” Mauriello said in a statement. “These actions are a blatant violation of Mr. Breen’s right to free speech. Criticism of our elected officials is one of the bedrocks of our country and attempting to suppress such activity is wholly inconsistent with the rights guaranteed under both the U.S. Constitution and the California Constitution.”

Bona’s anti-SLAAP suit slightly differs from Breen according to Bona’s attorney, Erik Jenkins. Still, there are similarities such as Schumacher’s conduct going after Bona for his speech on platforms such as Facebook and Nextdoor.

In regard to the TRO, Jenkins said he will request to dissolve the case (expunged and not searchable. The monetary relief request, Jenkins said, will be “multipliers” more than Posner’s $5,000.

For more about the case, read next Friday’s Coast News.