Yvette Felarca ordered to pay $20,000 in attorney's fees over 'frivolous' lawsuit

Yvette Felarca, a leader of the Antifa group By Any Means Necessary, has been ordered by a judge to pay $20,000 in attorneys fees to Judicial Watch. Berkeleyside reports the judge determined the case brought by Felarca was frivolous:

In his order, Judge Vince Chhabria called Felarca and her colleagues’ lawsuit against Berkeley Unified, in which conservative organization Judicial Watch was named a party, “frivolous” and “unreasonable.”…

The case stems from a 2017 records request filed by Judicial Watch. The group asked Berkeley Unified for all emails sent among district and King Middle School staff related to Felarca and her radical activism with By Any Means Necessary. Felarca has been a prominent figure at many local political rallies and is currently facing a felony charge in Sacramento for allegedly assaulting a neo-Nazi demonstrator.

Felarca and King colleagues Lori Nixon and Larry Stefl, in turn, sued BUSD in late 2017 to stop the district from handing over the emails. Their lawyers, from By Any Means Necessary, argued that the release of any of the records would chill Felarca’s freedom of speech and threaten the safety and privacy of her colleagues…

Felarca lost the case last October and ruled that Felarca could not prevent the emails from being released. Judicial Watch filed a claim for over $300,000 in legal fees related to the case. The judge decreased that amount significantly, in part because he felt the school district was responsible for some of the delays. The judge also said the full amount failed to take into account “the plaintiffs’ limited financial resources.” While the judge helped Felarca out financially, he scolded her lawsuit and said her take on the First Amendment was “obviously baseless.”

In his Wednesday order supporting Judicial Watch, Chhabria explained, “To start, a significant portion of the documents the plaintiffs initially sued to protect from disclosure had been publicly disclosed months earlier in another suit brought by Ms. Felarca against BUSD, where she was represented by the same counsel.”

The judge also wrote that an argument by Felarca’s lawyers that the First Amendment condones their ideology but “condemns the ‘alt-right’” was “obviously baseless.” He said they “failed to grapple with the role Ms. Felarca played in making herself a topic of public discourse through her physical conduct at public rallies and her voluntary appearance on Fox News.”

This isn’t the first time Felarca has been ordered to pay court fees. Last January she was ordered to pay Berkeley College Republicans President Troy Worden $11,000 to cover his attorney’s fees. It’s unclear to me how a Middle School teacher has money to pay for all of these lawsuit judgments.

We’re still waiting to see what will happen with the felony case against Felarca. In February her attorney claimed she was close to accepting a plea deal in the case. Since then there haven’t been any updates on the case. Meanwhile, Felarca is still at it. She’s quoted in a story today about Berkeley students pushing for a “sanctuary” dormitory:

“Here students at Berkeley are taking the lead and defending immigrants’ rights from ICE and attacks from Donald trump and to recognize that everyone in this community with or without papers belong here and have the right to be here,” said BAMN national member Yvette Felarca.

I guess it’s an improvement that she didn’t throw any punches.

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