Judge Joe Brown wins ruling in his own lawsuit

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Judge Joe Brown wins ruling in his own lawsuit

Thu Jul 29, 2010 @ 11:17AM PST

220px-JoebrownBy Eriq Gardner

Does it matter that Joe Brown of the "Judge Joe Brown Show" isn't licensed to practice law in California?

One guy, Mark Schweninger, thinks so. He's suing Brown for fraud and slander after appearing on the CBS program to press a case against a woman who allegedly failed to repay a $7,500 loan. 

Now the Los Angeles Superior Court is set to dismiss the case, issuing a tentative ruling granting the show's move to strike the complaint pursuant to California's anti-SLAPP statute.

Schweninger appeared in an episode that aired in February 2008. In that show, Judge Brown mocked him, calling him a sucker for lending the woman money and commenting, "You were just trying to get nookie."

The audience laughed but Schweninger was red-faced, and earlier this year, he filed a complaint alleging that the show and its producers fraudulently represented to him that Joe Brown was a "legitimate judge." (Brown in fact is a retired judge from Tennessee whose most famous case involved James Earl Ray's appeal of a conviction for the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.)

Schweninger signed a waiver, of course, but his allegations came down to what he was orally told prior to appearing on the program.

The superior court judge deems these communications to be subject to the "litigation privilege," making them immune to claims of defamation. Additionally, Schweninger's claims were ruled out-of-bounds because the statute of limitations has run out.

Judge Joe Brown prevails.

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to [email protected]

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