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Webinar: Anti-SLAPP in Probate and Trust Litigation

May 25, 2021 @ 12:00 pm 1:30 pm

1 Hour MCLE; 1.5 Legal Specialization in Estate Planning; Trust & Probate Law

A “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation,” or SLAPP suit, is a court filing complaining of injury as a result of petitioning the court or free speech activity.  A SLAPP suit is controversial.  Its intent often is to intimidate perceived adversaries by burdening them with the expense of a legal defense until they are silenced.  Critics of SLAPP suits cheered when Cal. Code of Civil Procedure § 425.16 was enacted in 1992.  Section 425.16 allows a special motion to strike a SLAPP suit.  A Section 425.16 special motion to strike, called an “anti-SLAPP” motion, is a powerful tool that litigators can wield against SLAPP suits.

Over the years, the broad reach of the anti-SLAPP motion has itself generated controversy.  Litigators, as they often do, have pushed the envelope of this powerful tool, threatening anti-SLAPP motions against all kinds of lawsuits.  In short, the tool intended to curb litigation abuse has become the subject of abuse.

Reigning in the application of anti-SLAPP motions has become a hot topic in probate and trust litigation.  That topic also is before the legislature: pending Senate Bill 329 proposes the prohibition of anti-SLAPP motions in trust and will contest proceedings.  

Speakers: Ciaran O’Sullivan and Ryan J. Szczepanik.

Speakers

Ciarán O’Sullivan has litigated the entire range of Trusts and Estates disputes since he began his career in 1998 in the Bay Area office of the firm now known as Reed Smith. He has been a solo practitioner since 2010. He is a frequent presenter on topics of interest to Trusts and Estates practitioners, and has published articles on Trusts and Estates litigation trial and appellate procedure. In 2017 he was appointed by the State Bar Trustees to serve a six-year term on the executive committee of the Trusts and Estates section (now CLA Trusts and Estates section, aka TEXCOM). He is the editor of the section’s New Case Alerts, and is the co-chair of TEXCOM’s Incapacity committee.

He received his undergraduate degree in Economics from University College Dublin, Ireland, and his law degree from U.C. Hastings College of the Law.

Ryan J. Szczepanik is a Principal with HARTOG, BAER & HAND. Mr. Szczepanik is a California Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law. He focuses his practice on trust and estate litigation. He has tried numerous matters in both California and federal courts.

Mr. Szczepanik graduated law school in 2003. From 2003 to 2012, he litigated trust, estate, and business disputes at large law firms, most recently at King & Spalding LLP in its Atlanta and San Francisco offices. He joined Hartog, Baer & Hand in 2012. His practice has been devoted exclusively to trust and estate litigation since that time. He became a Principal of Hartog, Baer & Hand in 2016.

Mr. Szczepanik is a Member of the Executive Committee of the Trusts and Estates Section of the California Lawyers Association (TEXCOM). He is the President of the East Bay Trusts & Estates Lawyers (EBTEL). He serves as a Court Appointed Special Master and Referee for the Alameda County Probate Court.

Mr. Szczepanik is a 1999 graduate of Amherst College and a 2003 graduate of Emory Law School.

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