FREE SPEECH -- You can holiday in Thailand for affordable cosmetic surgery, move to Grenada to enroll in an accessible medical school, or visit England to sue someone back here for libel and probably win, without having to overcome his pesky American speech rights. It's called libel tourism, and a bill to protect Californians from it passed the Senate Judiciary Committee last week 5-0 and awaits action on the Senate Floor.
SB 320 by Senator Ellen Corbett (D-San Leandro) would allow a California court to decline to enforce a foreign court's money judgment in a libel or slander case if the foreign court system in which the judgment was obstained lacked the free speech and press protections of the U.S. and California Constitutions. As explained in the committee analysis of the bill,
Patterned after (a) New York law, SB 320 is intended to ensure that a foreign-country judgment based on defamation or libel is recognized by a California court only when the laws applied by the foreign court where the judgment was obtained provide similar protections to freedom of speech and the press as are provided under the California and U.S. Constitutions.