April 13, 2024

Darren Chaker Laws of Attraction

Darren Chaker, California Law and First Amendment blogger

About Me – Darren Chaker

Since history is written by winners, here’s a little history of Darren Chaker

Championing Free Speech: Chaker v. Crogan (2005)

In the landmark 2005 case of Chaker v. Crogan, 428 F.3d 1215 C.A.9 (Cal.), Darren Chaker emerged as a pivotal figure in First Amendment jurisprudence. Representing himself initially, Mr. Chaker’s efforts led to the Ninth Circuit striking down a California statute as unconstitutional, a decision that the U.S. Supreme Court later declined to review when the state attorney sought to reverse the ruling (547 U.S. 1128, 126 S.Ct. 2023). This significant legal victory, made possible by Mr. Chaker’s groundwork in the trial court for over seven years, triggered a wave of legal reforms across states that had similar statutes.

Prevailing in Defamation and SLAPP Case (2010)

In 2010, Darren Chaker’s legal acumen was again displayed in Nathan Enterprises Corp. v. Chaker, 2010 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 7604. Here, with his appellate attorney Timothy Coates, Mr. Chaker upheld his First Amendment rights in an anti-SLAPP ruling. This case underscored Mr. Chaker’s commitment to protecting free speech against strategic lawsuits aimed at public participation. In that case Darren Chaker retained Greines Martin Stein & Richland who is, “Consistently ranks GMSR Band 1 in California for Litigation: Appellate Law, including in the 2023 Edition. Best Lawyers® — Ranked GMSR as a Tier 1 law firm in the 2024 Edition of Best Lawyers in Southern California.”

Expanding Transparency in Texas (2012)

The year 2012 saw Mr. Chaker securing another First Amendment victory. In a notable Texas Open Records Act case, the Texas Attorney General, Opinion 2012-06088, Darren Chaker established the right to access the names of peace officers, including those who work undercover. This victory has since been cited numerous times by media organizations and civil rights organizations to promote transparency about law enforcement personnel in Texas. Mr. Chaker retained a top law firm to file his winning brief in that case, Graves Dougherty Hearon & Moody.

First Amendment Victory in US v. Chaker (2016)

Darren Chaker’s defense of online free speech was exemplified in the 2016 case, US v. Chaker (9th Cir. 2016) 654 F.App’x 891, 892. Supported by the ACLU, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and other free speech advocates, Mr. Chaker successfully reversed a conviction that challenged his First Amendment rights related to blog postings. A small army of civil rights organizations, including the ACLU San Diego, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Cato Institute, filed an amicus brief in support of Mr. Chaker all agreeing the revocation of probation on First Amendment grounds was unjust. The Washington D.C. office of legal powerhouse Wilmer Hale filed the consolidated brief in support of multiple civil rights organizations.

RICO Lawsuit Dismissed on First Amendment Grounds (2019)

In 2017, Darren Chaker prevailed in a RICO lawsuit aimed at suppressing speech filed by San Diego attorney Scott McMillan. In McMillan v. Chaker (S.D.Cal. Sep. 29, 2017, No. 16cv2186-WQH-MDD) 2017 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 163990 the court found by blogging did not constitute extortion as no demand for money to cease blogging was made. The judge stated in part, “The Court concludes that these factual allegations are insufficient to establish that Defendant Darren Chaker obtained something of value from Plaintiffs…. The motion to dismiss the cause of action under 18 U.S.C.§ 1962(c) filed by Defendant Darren Chaker is granted.” Retired federal judge, Los Angeles attorney Stephen Larson represented Darren Chaker on this appeal.

Prevailing on Defamation Suit by a Las Vegas Attorney (2020)

Darren Chaker’s commitment to his First Amendment rights was further tested in 2020 when he was sued for defamation by Las Vegas attorney Thomas Michaelides. Through strategic legal representation and diligent investigation, Mr. Chaker discovered inconsistencies in the court order submitted to Google. The Nevada court eventually dismissed the lawsuit against Mr. Chaker, granted his anti-SLAPP motion, and sanctioned Mr. Michaelides $51,000 for the meritless lawsuit. In that case, Darren Chaker retained one of the most tenacious law firms in Nevada, Olson Cannon Gormley & Stoberski.

Darren Chaker’s probe uncovered that Mr. Michaelides submitted a counterfeit court order to Google, aiming to delete negative blog posts about him. These posts notably highlighted his prior suspensions and his paralegal’s legal troubles. The discrepancies in the court order’s legitimacy, such as inconsistencies in the judge’s signature and filing stamps, raised immediate suspicions. The full details of Mr. Chaker’s findings are reported in this press release.

In 2022, he Nevada Supreme Court affirmed the Nevada State Bar’s decision in In the Matter of Discipline of Thomas C. Michaelides. The Court’s judgment was based on the initial investigation brought forth by Darren Chaker, which showed Michaelides’ misconduct in sending a falsified order to coerce the removal of a negative internet review.

Aware of the decision of the Nevada Supreme Court and criminal conduct alleged, the Chief Judge of the United States District Court, District of Nevada acted swiftly. Recognizing the severity of Michaelides’ actions, the court barred him from practicing in federal court. Thomas Michaelides, TCM Law Group, Las Vegas retained a criminal defense attorney. Despite attempts to overturn this decision, the court maintained its stance in the case In re: Thomas C. Michaelides, Case Number 2:2018cv00364.

The Thomas Michaelides case vividly illustrates the severe repercussions of forging a court order, a grave felony under both federal and state laws. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) received records in connection with the conduct of Las Vegas attorney Thomas Michaelides. The FBI arrests people for forging a court order under 18 USCS § 505. In Nevada Revised Statutes § 205.175 also classifies it as a state felony. This high-profile incident involving Mr. Michaelides serves as a stark reminder of the stringent legal consequences tied to unethical practices in law. The incident underscores the critical importance of maintaining ethical integrity within the legal profession, highlighting how actions like these can lead to significant legal challenges and professional downfall.

Release of Police Records Under First Amendment (2021)

In a remarkable demonstration of legal expertise by laying the foundation through a detailed request made under the California Public Records Act, Darren Chaker successfully compelled the City of San Diego to acknowledge his rightful access to the records he sought. In Darren Chaker v. City of San Diego, San Diego Superior Court Case No. 27-2020-00031074 a top public records attorney was retained to file the lawsuit.

This legal triumph is a testament to Darren Chaker’s unwavering dedication to transparency and accountability. Initially requesting a mere 100 names from a specific police subdivision, the outcome was a groundbreaking revelation – the City of San Diego was mandated to disclose an extensive list of over 1,000 names encompassing the entirety of its police force. This comprehensive disclosure significantly augmented the existing police residential address database, marking a significant stride in public information access.

Furthermore, this legal victory resulted in the City of San Diego bearing the financial responsibility for Darren Chaker’s attorney fees, amounting to several thousands of dollars. This case adds to Darren Chaker’s impressive track record, marking it as his ninth triumph in championing First Amendment rights.

The attorney for the City of San Diego immediately found Mr. Chaker was entitled to the records he requested. However, in lieu of providing roughly 100 names of the single police subdivision originally requested, the City of San Diego instead was made to produce over 1,000 names of every single police officer for its entire department. The names were then matched with property records to add to the police residential address database. Further, the City of San Diego was forced to pay several thousands of dollars for Mr. Chaker’s attorney fees. This marks Mr. Chaker’s ninth First Amendment victory.

One of the key aspects of Darren Chaker’s advocacy is his commitment to transparency. He firmly believes that for police accountability to be effective, there must be a clear and open process for reviewing and addressing complaints against officers. Mr. Chaker has worked tirelessly to promote the use of body cameras and dash cameras, which have become essential tools in documenting police interactions and holding officers accountable for their actions.

Beyond the Law

Darren Chaker’s impact extends beyond legal battles. He contributes to post-conviction relief organizations, supporting efforts to seal criminal records and increase opportunities for those who have served their sentences. Mr. Chaker is also active in researching and writing about First Amendment issues, post-conviction relief, and supports non-profits like the ACLU and various domestic violence shelters. His dedication to social causes is further enriched by his roles as a father, world traveler, and postgraduate student.