California COA Reinstates Lawsuit against Tribal Lawyers

Here is the unpublished opinion in Fernandez v. Marston:

Fernandez v Martson

An excerpt:

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.

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.

This entry was posted in Author: Matthew L.M. Fletcher, Research and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.