At an event I attended last weekend, I happened to meet an actual, currently-working judge (the first judge I’ve ever met in person.) I asked her for her opinion on Prop 60, and she’d never heard of it, and she had no opinion on condoms in porn. But the more I started telling her the legal details, the more she literally started to both laugh and gasp at the outrageousness and legal absurdity of what she was hearing.
She said laws that encourage so-called “taxpayer lawsuits” initiated by citizens to sue alleged violators of regulations were common. But she had never heard of a law or proposed law that offers large financial bounties to citizens to initiate these lawsuits. She said this was an incredibly dangerous and ominous prospect, because once it passes it becomes standing legal precedent.
Why would that be bad? Because, she said, then any politician or regulator or special interest group or hate group with an ax to grind will now have a legal precedent allowing them to politicize any obscure regulation that vaguely intersects with some group they hate (immigrants, women, queer people, sex workers, abortion providers, pot growers and dispensaries, Muslims–the usual targets), and set up bounty-systems of vigilante justice to target the alleged violators.
She was particularly worried about how this would play out at the local level. Let’s say there’s one gay bar in some conservative town, and homophobic locals have been trying to shut it down for years. Well now, any bigoted members of the local government have a standing precedent to institute a large bounty for all citizens of the town to sue and harass the proprietor of the bar for even *alleged* violations of any number of minor local bar regulations and ordinances (which would normally be enforced by some local inspector, not by angry mobs of citizens), eventually overwhelming and shutting the owner down with frivolous harassment lawsuits.
The judge also had a field day with the licensing and reporting requirements in the act. She said it was totally unprecedented, and legally absurd, to require business owners to write in to an agency and affirmatively assert, under penalty of perjury, that they are following a regulation, each and every time they perform the activity being regulated. She used an analogy of regulations in a hair and nail salon. Imagine if salon owners had to write in a letter swearing they had properly sanitized each set of scissors, etc., after each use. That would snow the business owner under a mountain of ridiculous and unnecessary reporting. That’s just not how industry regulation works, and Prop 60 is legally absurd for this reason as well.
Finally, the judge pointed out that, if Prop 60 passes, countless shady legal outfits, akin to ambulance chasers, will set up shop and initiate countless lawsuits against (female, queer, trans) porn performers. If even a fraction of these result in judgements, these legal bottom-feeders will have ample reason to spend every work day of every year harassing every porn performer they possibly can.
You could think porn is bad, and yet I hope you would STILL oppose setting up a standing legal precedent that allows hate groups and special interests to deal with societal issues by empowering angry mobs to initiate vigilante lawsuits against individual workers, incentivized by large bounties. It’s just an awful, awful precedent, for the entire state and nation, and I enjoin you to vote NO on Prop 60.