A judge who previously dismissed Salem Media Group as a defendant in former Rep. Katie Hill’s revenge porn lawsuit, alleging nude photos of her were published without her permission, said this week she’s inclined to order the ex-congresswoman to pay the company nearly $55,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Yolanda Orozco ruled on April 21 that Salem Media, owner of the conservative blog RedState.com, had shown that the photos were matters of legitimate interest involving a public official because they addressed Hill’s character and qualifications for her position.
Salem Media then asked for nearly $70,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs. Hill’s lawyers objected, saying Salem Media’s attorneys were claiming to have spent an unreasonable amount of time on the anti-SLAPP motion and the motion for attorneys’ fees.
The state’s anti-SLAPP—Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation—law is intended to prevent people from using courts, and potential threats of a lawsuit, to intimidate those who are exercising their First Amendment rights.
Orozco said in her tentative ruling issued Wednesday that after reviewing Salem Media’s lawyers’ work calculations, she is proposing to award $54,470 in attorneys’ fees and costs. She said that although the amount is less than what the company’s lawyers have recommended, she does not believe their request was improper.
“Nothing before the court indicates that the time spent on the anti-SLAPP motion or the instant motion was unreasonable, duplicative or excessive,” the judge wrote.
RedState.com published one article in October 2019 with a link to a photograph of Hill brushing a female staffer’s hair. The blog maintained the photo did not depict any “intimate body part” of Hill and argued that Hill’s actions called into question her character and ability to continue as a representative in American government.