OUCH BABY, the LAWSUIT against one Chukchansi faction that raided the casino operations is BACK ON!
Two unwitting pawns in a bitter, protracted leadership dispute between rival factions of an Indian tribe, appellants Shawn Fernandez and Brian Auchenbach, took part in a paramilitary raid of the tribe’s casino offices in order to oust a competing tribal faction of possession. The two men believed they had been lawfully deputized as police officers for the tribe, had full legal authority to engage in the operation, and would not face any adverse legal consequences or criminal charges as a result. They believed this, because attorneys for the tribal faction that hired them as police officers assured them it was true.
It wasn’t. Contrary to counsel’s assurances, Fernandez and Auchenbach were arrested by the Madera County Sheriff’s Department, along with the others who participated in the raid, and were charged with 29 felony counts. The two men then brought this lawsuit against the attorneys involved, alleging causes of action for attorney malpractice, negligence and fraud, premised on the attorneys’ false assurances to them concerning the validity of the tribal police force that had hired them and the legality of the armed raid they took part in.
BOOM:!The trial court granted the attorneys’ motion to strike their complaint under the anti-SLAPP statute (Code Civ. Proc., § 425.161). We reverse, because this lawsuit does not arise from any activity protected by that statute.
During several private planning meetings with the new ostensible police force, attorneys Lester Marston and Mark Levitan advised the group that the planned operation was legal and authorized by all pertinent governmental agencies.
In particular, both lawyers repeatedly assured the police force that they had been deputized by “Special Law Enforcement Commission, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Office of Justice Services” as tribal police officers and were therefore authorized to enforce federal law on tribal property, all relevant law enforcement agencies had accepted their appointment as tribal police officers (including the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Madera County Sheriff’s Department), as officers of the newly formed police department they were properly and legally authorized to takepossession of the casino office without interference from the Madera County Sheriff’s Department, and they would face no adverse legal consequences or charges as a result of
carrying out the eviction operation
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