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By Miriam Raftery

June 13, 2023 (Lemon Grove) – Judges in two separate cases have extended restraining orders against Lemon Grove Councilwoman Liana LeBaron pending future hearings, but have not yet ruled on the merits of the cases.

Temporary restraining issues were issued in response to requests from Councilwoman Jennifer Mendoza and from LeBaron’s estranged husband, Timothy C.D. Howell.

Howell claims LeBaron hit, punched, kicked and bit him, as well as verbally abusing him with name-calling and threats to make false accusations to have him fired from his job as a police officer, as well as threats of infidenlity, among other allegations.  He claims to have at least one incident of alleged violence on tape. LeBaron has denied these claims. The couple is in the process of divorce proceedings.

Superior Court Judge Sherreen Charlick extended the restraining order and authorized a family resolution conference on November 3 at 1:30 p.m. as well as a trial setting conference on December 7, 2023  and an evidentiary hearing on  the restraining order on January 10, 2024. The evidentiary hearing postponement means it won't be heard until after the  November 2023 election, when LeBaron could be running for reelection.

Councilmember Mendoza has claimed that LeBaron has stalked and harassed her, screaming profanities at Mendoza and her husband, and that she felt fearful amid “escalating” harassment  Incidents alleged included some at campaign events, city council meetings, and an altercation at the Five Points Brewery in Lemon Grove. Mendoza has also claimed LeBaron once boxed her in with a vehicle, drove past Mendoza’s home honking, and has called her profane names, among other allegations.

Mendoza said LeBaron approached her at the brewery and whispered, “I’m glad I have so much control over you.”  LeBaron says Mendoza got up and pushed a chair into her.  LeBaron called the Sheriff, but the Sheriff’s department found “no probable cause” that an assault had occurred. 

LeBaron filed a motion contending that Mendoza’s restraining order constituted a SLAPP suit intended to block her First Amendment freedoms. On this point,  Judge Peter A. Lynch agreed in a hearing in early May, when he granted LeBaron’s  anti-SLAPP motion regarding campaign and city-council related activities.  LeBaron also filed statements from multiple witnesses who said the drive past Mendoza’s home occurred during a candidate parade.

LeBaron’s lawyer,Cory Briggs,  says Mendoza will have to pay  LeBaron’s legal bills related to the anti-SLAPP portion of the case. 

Judge Lynch ordered LeBaron to stay way from Mendoza until the next hearing on August 14.  “On the merits, the judge made no findings of wrongdoing against Liana,” Briggs told ECM viaemail. “He merely continued the TEMPORARY restraining order for 90 days to see whether there is any misconduct between now and the next hearing; ifnot, the case will be dismissed,”  he predicted. 

However, Lynch issued a cautionary note, stating, “The court is concerned about the conduct that has been described.”

The temporary restraining order includes an exception for conducting city council business, so as not to disrupt public proceedings or the public’s right to representation.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that a third person,  Neri Garcia, has filed two restraining order requests that were not granted by the court. Those restraining orders were sought by Garcia against Liana Marez, whom the newspaper indicates is Liana LeBaron.  Garcia was reportedly dating LeBaron’s father, Mark Marez.  Garcia claimed that Liana Marez had stalked her, banged on her bedroom door, scratched her car, called her a profane name and let air out of her tires, among other alleged harassment. Both of Garcia’s restraining order requests were denied for lack of proof.


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