Most people don’t get a chance to taste the victory of an important free speech ruling. On Friday, actor Marlon Wayans experienced success for the second time at California’s Second Appellate District.
For several years now, Wayans has been defending his on- and off-set behavior during the making of A Haunted House 2. He’s been in court with Pierre Daniel, who alleges that Wayans subjected him to repeated offensive language about his African American race and tweeted his picture alongside Family Guy character Cleveland Brown with the comment, “Tell me this nigga doesn’t look like…THIS NIGGA!!!”
Two years ago, a panel of judges at the Second Appellate Division affirmed a lower court’s dismissal of the case. Wayans was able to use California’s SLAPP statute, which is meant to deter frivolous lawsuits chilling First Amendment activity. Under the SLAPP law, judges first analyze whether a lawsuit arises from protected activity on a matter of public concern. If so, the suit is then screened for minimal merit before the legal action moves any further. The case generated a lengthy discussion of race and creativity, and Wayans came out ahead.
But then something quite unexpected happened.