Krista Baughman

Krista Lee Baughman


Krista leads the firm’s First Amendment and defamation practice.  She litigates some of the most complex and cutting-edge questions of the day, and her cases frequently make new law.

In the courtroom, Krista is a fierce advocate for her clients and has obtained multi-million-dollar judgments, rare procedural victories, and precedent-setting verdicts on their behalf. Court observers have described her trial presentation as “outstanding.” Krista’s cases have: 

  • Extended  fair procedure rights to all California students wrongly expelled by a private high school;
  • Eradicated unconstitutional policies that stifled citizens of San Clemente from speaking out at city council meetings;
  • Upheld First Amendment rights for all California attorneys by defeating State Bar disciplinary charges filed in connection with attorney’s protected speech on Twitter;
  • Defined the parameters of California’s “revenge porn” law as applied to elected officials;
  • Obtained rare take-down orders protecting victim of anonymous defamation cyber campaign on Reddit, Google, WordPress, and others;
  • Achieved a landmark settlement to ensure the First Amendment rights of students at UC Berkeley.

Outside the courtroom, Krista is a sought-after advisor and a widely recognized authority in defamation and anti-SLAPP matters, with a record of success litigating these issues around the country. Professionals including other attorneys regularly choose Krista for their most sensitive matters, and for her skill in crafting a holistic strategy that weaves legal merits together with PR and human-relations concerns. Krista’s experience extends to the newsroom, where she adeptly represents her clients’ interests in response to media inquiries and the public scrutiny that accompanies high-profile cases. Krista regularly speaks and writes about speech and civil rights issues, and her passion in this field brings unparalleled representation to her clients.

Aside from her case work, Krista is honored to serve as an Executive Committee member of the San Francisco Bar Association (BASF)’s Litigation Section, and as a Board Member of First Amendment Lawyers Association (FALA). Outside of the law, Krista is passionate about advancing the rights and opportunities of children and is on the Leadership Council of PeerForward, a nonprofit that seeks to close the education gap for low-income students. Krista is also a member of the California Lawyers Association and the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE).

Contact Information

A.H., a minor, et al. v. Saint Francis High School et al., Santa Clara County Superior Court, 2024) – following an 8-week jury trial against private high school for arbitrary expulsion and defamation of minor students, obtained million-dollar verdict clearing students’ names and expanding California law to afford fair process rights to all high school students.

In re: Marla Anne Brown, (State Bar of California, October 2023) – following a 5-day trial, obtained full exoneration of all disciplinary charges accusing attorney client of “inciting violence” with rhetorical tweets, setting precedent protecting all California attorneys who wish to exercise their free speech rights without fear of punishment.

Reiterman v. Abid (U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida, pro hac vice). Obtained rare take-down orders in initial stage of defamation lawsuit, in connection with anonymous cyber campaign published about client on Reddit, Google, Microsoft, WordPress, and others. Obtained $6.5 million judgment for client following victory on appeal and summary judgment.

Alonso v. Chahal (San Francisco Superior Court). Defeated appeal and ultimately obtained $12,102,994.07 judgment for professional marketing executive client who was publicly defamed by her former employers.

Young America’s Foundation v. Napolitano et al., (U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, 2018). In federal free speech, retaliation, due process, and equal protection lawsuit involving university’s discriminatory application of a policy to restrict on campus speech by students, achieved landmark settlement to ensure the First Amendment rights of students at University of California, Berkeley.

Hill v. Heslep et al. (Los Angeles Superior Court). In matter involving journalist’s reporting of alleged illegal and unethical conduct by a member of Congress, obtained anti-SLAPP order striking complaint, awarding attorneys’ fees in favor of journalist clients, and defining parameters of California’s “revenge porn” law as applied to elected officials.

Woodell v. Bernstein et al. (San Mateo Superior Court). Obtained case-terminating sanctions following successful motion concerning plaintiff’s intentional destruction/ spoliation of evidence in case involving opposing candidates for Menlo Park Fire Protection District Board.

Pekgoz v. Ehrhardt (Los Angeles County Superior Court, 2016). Obtained anti-SLAPP order striking complaint and awarding attorneys’ fees on behalf of client who was sued for defamation in connection with statements made in a university Title IX proceeding, establishing that Title IX proceedings are protected forums for speech under the anti-SLAPP statute.

Malamud et al. v. City of San Clemente (U.S. District Court, Central District of California, 2019). In federal free speech and due process lawsuit involving city’s efforts to stifle clients from speaking out against city at city council meetings, achieved settlementprotecting the citizens of San Clemente by eradicating the City’s use of unconstitutional speech-restricting policies.

Hernandez v. City of San Jose, 897 F.3d 1125, 1132 (9th Circuit, 2018). Achieved precedent-setting 9th Circuit decision that clarified the standard for due process liability against police, and government qualified immunity, in crowd control situations.

  1. United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
  2. United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit
  3. United States District Court:
    1. Central District of California
    2. Northern District of California
    3. Eastern District of California
    4. Southern District of California
    5. Southern District of New York
    6. Eastern District of New York
    7. District of Columbia
  • Lehigh University, B.A. International Relations, magna cum laude
  • Brooklyn Law School, J.D., cum laude
Attorney Speech: Trends and Case StudiesFirst Amendment Lawyers Association2023
Creating a Matrix for Truth in Social MediaReutersNEXT Virtual Global Conference2021
An ‘Uncivil War’: Examining Political Tribalism and the Rise of the Grievance Culture”Thomson Reuters Institute2021
Sound and Fury: Morality, Ideology and the rise of “Cancel Culture”Thomson Reuters Institute2020
Battling Corporate Internet Trolls: Going After Imposters and Competitors That Break the LawStrafford MCLE Presentation2020
Free Speech PanelUC Berkeley School of Law2017
Free Speech PanelGolden Gate University School of Law2017
★★★★★ Excellence in every aspect of her job Krista is that very rare gem of an attorney who exceeds one’s expectations at each and every facet of her profession. I came to her with an important First Amendment case involving a government entity. Her enthusiasm to “fight the good fight” was immediately evident. Her grasp of the issues and attention to detail were impressive, as was the speed with which she evaluated the facts and issues. She communicates very effectively and responds quickly, both with the unexpected bonus of always being courteous and pleasant. At the same time, she has a strong writing voice which results in skillfully worded and firmly precise legal documents. Her initial assessment of the case proved to be entirely accurate, as well as completely successful. She approached the defendants aggressively, and swiftly negotiated a fully favorable outcome. There is no better endorsement than prompt success. I wholeheartedly recommend Krista to anyone needing professional and effective representation. – S Barr
Krista Lee Baughman - Dhillon Law Group Partner
Skip to content