Cadeflaw stands for California Anti-Defamation Legacy Law. Its purpose is to make a change in the California law that would allow for a course of action for family members who are harmed by the defamation of their deceased loved one. The law is not without precedent; five states have such a law on their books. Idaho, Georgia, Nevada, Colorado, and Louisiana have laws protecting the reputation of the deceased. The goal of Cadeflaw is to add California to the list of those states that protect the reputations and legacies of those who have passed on.
Cadeflaw’s initiative does not intend to thwart freedom of speech. We believe everyone has a right to say whatever they wish; we do however, believe that each person should be held accountable for their words. Words can leave lasting and deep wounds, and sometimes it’s the truth that is painful. When something is said or written that is true and is reported for a purpose it is one thing. However, using words to intentionally defame or hurt someone is not socially or morally responsible. That is our belief and it is why this effort was started and why Cadeflaw will continue to work until the change in the law comes to fruition.
Cadeflaw started when Michael Jackson passed away. As mourning people struggled to understand the depth of emotion and grief they were feeling, they sought others who shared their feelings. One cause of their continued sorrow was the ongoing media degradation of Michael. The reporting of rumor, speculation, and the rehashing of old lies began to take a toll on those who loved Michael. Caring and concerned people came together and developed ways to honor Michael and share “the other side of the story”.
One group of people became especially close and as they shared their thoughts and feelings, an idea came forward to urge the State of California to put a law into place that would allow an avenue of relief for family members when a deceased loved one is the object of defamation. This idea took off under the leadership of Mary Brookins, Administrative Director of CADEFLAW. The supporters of CADEFLAW will no longer passively accept the disrespectful and cruel assassination of Michael or anyone else that is not here to defend themselves.
The inspiration behind this initiative is Michael Jackson; however, the law is not intended to cover only Michael. The proposed law will give every citizen, regardless of social standing or status, the right to respect and dignity after they have passed on. It will give every family a chance to stop the pain, suffering, and possible financial loss caused by the defamation of a deceased loved one.
Since its inception in early 2010, Cadeflaw has had many opportunities to get our message and goal out in front of people. Very early on, Karen Kmiecik, Cadeflaw Finance Director, had the opportunity to travel to California. While there she was able to meet with Mr. Thomas Mesereau, Michael Jackson’s attorney during his 2005 trial. Mr. Mesereau read our petition and wished us well in our endeavor. One of the earliest exposures we had was an interview by Billy Johnson from Yahoo! Music. Valmai Owens, Director of Publications MJTP interviewed us for her blog. Firpo Carr has interviewed us and we have twice appeared in his Los Angeles Sentinel column. Cadeflaw has a regular column in the Jam Café Magazine, the Michael Jackson Tribute Portrait online magazine, where each month we strive to share information on our progress and continue to enlighten people about our effort and its importance. Several times each month, Cadeflaw hosts blog talk radio shows where various topics pertaining to the group’s objectives are discussed.
Cadeflaw organized its first official event in August, 2012. It was held in California and was organized to coincide with Michael Jackson’s 54th birthday. This was an exciting way to present Cadeflaw’s mission and the group worked diligently to make it a success. The event was held at the J Spot Comedy Club in Los Angeles, and Cadeflaw Fundraising Director, Christina Tozer was present to facilitate. The event was hosted by Mr. Broderick Rice. Several notable speakers were present, among them Geraldine Hughes, author of “Redemption”; Larry Nimmer, Emmy-award nominated filmmaker and creator of the documentary “The Untold Story of Neverland”; April Sutton, BET Television host and reporter; and William Wagener, Producer at OnSecondThought.tv. Mary Brookins, Cadeflaw Administrative Director, gave an introductory message. The event was a success in getting people aware of Cadeflaw and the importance of protecting the reputations and legacies of the deceased.
We needed twenty-five California registered voters to sign our petition in order to present our plea to the California Legislative Counsel. During the spring of 2012 we gathered 91 signatures and we submitted a letter requesting the Legislative Counsel to consider our request for a minor change in California law.
The Cadeflaw law is simple; it only changes California Civil Code §§ 44-48 by changing the definition of who can be defamed to include “a natural person whether living or dead”. Standing rules follow the California Probate Code §§ 6400 – 6414.
Cadeflaw’s proposal was submitted to the California Legislative Counsel in May, 2012. In July we received this communication from the Legislative Counsel: “Pursuit to your request, we have prepared, in appropriate form, your initiative measure to be submitted to the electors, relating to the extending the cause of action for defamation of a deceased person to the person’s relatives.”
Now that the proposed initiative has been written, we must submit the draft to the California Attorney General with a written request that a circulating title and summary of the chief purpose and points of the initiative measure be prepared (Elections Code § 9001(a)). At the time of submission we must pay a fee of $200. The $200 fee is to be placed in a trust fund in the Office of the State Treasurer and is refunded if the initiative measure qualified for the ballot within two years after the summary has been issued to our organization. If the initiative measure fails to qualify within that period, the fee is put into the General Fund of the State (Elections Code § 9001 (c )). At the time of request for title and summary we must also execute and submit a signed statement prepared by the Office of the Attorney General in reference to the collection of signatures. Our plan is to initiate a petition signing campaign before submitting the draft of the bill to the Attorney General. We must find dedicated people in the state of California
Cadeflaw is ready for the next step in bringing our mission to completion. We have come a long way from that little group of women who wanted to “make that change” as Michael Jackson sang. We want to make a difference, and take a stand against irresponsible journalism ……………….
Cadeflaw is also involved in other ways of trying to “make that change” in people’s lives. During the early part of 2012 Cadeflaw Research Director, Vanessa Little, shared a burden she had on her heart for the children of Gary, Indiana. Gary is the birthplace of Michael Jackson, and it is a town that has been overlooked in many ways. Cadeflaw sought a public school that could use some extra help and the Frankie Woods McCullough Girls’ Academy responded to our inquiry. The girls who attend the Academy are known as the Butterflies. Cadeflaw has adopted the Academy, and supporting the Butterflies has become very important to Cadeflaw. You can learn all about all about Cadeflaw’s Butterfly Project here Cadeflaw Gary, IN Butterfly Project
(See Media – Cadeflaw Articles)
B. Owens, Cadeflaw Secretary/Journalists