Attorney General Bill Lockyer Praises Orange County Court Ruling Validating Measure H

Thursday, February 22, 2001
Contact: (415) 703-5837, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

(SACRAMENTO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer today praised an Orange County Superior Court ruling that upholding the validity of Measure H, a locally-approved initiative which requires that the county’s share of the national tobacco settlement be spent on specified purposes.

“Today’s ruling represents an important victory for Orange County voters and for the initiative process in California,” Lockyer said. “The voters of Orange County spoke, and the court listened. The court’s ruling is also a victory for public health in California because the national tobacco settlement envisioned that the funds would be used predominately for health-related purposes.”

Measure H, which was approved by 64.6% of the Orange County electorate in November 2000, allocates Orange County's share of the nationwide settlement with the tobacco industry for local health care, tobacco control and public safety purposes. Attorney General Lockyer, appearing as amicus curiae, personally argued that Measure H was a valid exercise of the initiative power. Lockyer also challenged the county's decision to sue Dr. J. Brennan Cassidy, one of the measure's proponents, as violative of California's anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) statute. Lockyer argued that requiring a proponent to defend the legality of a measure enacted by the public is likely to discourage citizens from participating in the political process. The court, however, denied the anti-SLAPP motion on the ground that the county met the minimum legal requirements for such lawsuits.

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