Victoria Burke Drafted Legislation to Protect Survivors from Defamation Lawsuits
SACRAMENTO, Calif., Oct. 13, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Scott+Scott attorney and Southwestern Law School professor Victoria Burke has had her bill AB933 signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom in the state of California. This law, initially drafted and proposed by Victoria, is intended to strengthen legal protection for survivors of sexual assault and after a lot of effort, the San Diego-based attorney watched her bill officially become law on October 10, 2023.
Victoria has been living with the trauma of being drugged and assaulted since 2019. Prior to her assault, she was unaware of the many defamation lawsuits being used to silence survivors in the backlash from the #MeToo movement. But when a defamation lawyer cautioned her to be careful when speaking about her own experience, she felt compelled to change the law to protect herself and fellow survivors.
"Being wealthy or famous didn't protect Taylor Swift or the Cosby victims from retaliatory lawsuits, so what hope did average survivors have?" said Burke. "I wrote this bill so that all survivors of assault retain their right to speak their truth without fear of retribution. I am humbled by the support my grassroots efforts to bring change to a broken system have received and I am excited about the potential to bring that change to survivors across the country."
As an attorney and law professor with experience drafting legislation on behalf of the ABA, Victoria was uniquely qualified to bring about positive change in the law. She spent a year researching case law, statutes, and examples of survivors whose alleged assailants attempted to silence them via defamation litigation. In 2022, she sent her draft bill to every member of the California legislature, Victoria solicited numerous advocacy groups to provide feedback on the bill including ACLU, RAINN, NWLC, ERA, UltraViolet, the Joyful Heart Foundation, and the Elizabeth Smart Foundation, among others.
When Assembly Speaker pro Tempore Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters) and Assemblymember Chris Ward (D-San Diego), showed support and offered to co-author the bill, Burke worked closely with them to see it through.
"Far too often, perpetrators of sexual misconduct, abuse, assault, and harassment use the court system to punish survivors for speaking out about their abuse. This further victimizes those who bravely choose to come forward," said Assemblymember Ward. "The Protecting Survivors from Weaponized Defamation Lawsuits Act will protect them from being silenced and lift up the voices of survivors so they can freely share their experiences without fear of retaliation."
Burke's goal is to spread this bill across the country, one state at a time. She already has a sponsor in her home state of Illinois, where the Bill (HB2836) will be introduced in the next legislative session under its original title "The Right to Speak Your Truth Act." She is currently in conversation with state representatives in New York and Colorado to sponsor the bill in their respective states.
Victoria joined Scott+Scott in 2016 and is a part of the firm's national plaintiffs' class action practice, representing corporate clients and classes of individuals seeking recoveries in state and federal courts.
"We are incredibly proud of the work that Victoria is doing," said David Scott, managing partner at Scott+Scott. "She is the epitome of the kind of lawyer we want in our firm; smart, compassionate and unstoppable."
About Victoria Burke
Victoria Burke is an attorney at Scott+Scott Attys San Diego office, specializing in intellectual property and class action litigation. She holds both CIPP/US and CIPP/E designations and is an Adjunct Associate Fashion Law Professor at Southwestern Law School.
Victoria was named a Super Lawyers San Diego Rising Stars in 2017 and 2018, and in 2015 she was awarded the Recognition of Outstanding Leadership Contribution by the American Bar Association. She is currently an expert consultant on Privacy and Intellectual Property matters for the Expert Network Group, LLC., has served as a panelist for the Osgoode Fashion Law Society, and frequently authors law articles/ briefs for parties such as the Daily Journal, ABA, and Supreme Court. Originally from Chicago, IL, Prof. Burke received her B.A. from Arizona State University and Law Degree from Southwestern Law School and currently resides in California.
Scott+Scott has significant experience in prosecuting major securities, antitrust, arbitration, data privacy, and consumer actions throughout the United States and Europe. The firm represents pension funds, corporations, foundations, businesses, individuals, and other entities worldwide with offices in New York, London, Amsterdam, Berlin, Connecticut, Virginia, Arizona, Ohio, Nebraska, Texas and California. For more information, visit www.scott-scott.com or call +1.800.404.7770
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