Georgia’s anti-SLAPP law broadly protects acts in furtherance of a person’s “right of petition or free speech” under the U.S. or Georgia constitutions “in connection with an issue of public interest or concern.” Ga. Code Ann. § 9-11-11.1(b)(1) (2019). A court must grant a defendant’s motion to dismiss or strike claims that “could reasonably be construed” as arising out of such protected activity, unless the plaintiff has established a probability of prevailing on the claim. § 9-11-11.1(b)(1).
In ruling on an anti-SLAPP motion, courts must consider the complaint, motion, and any supporting or opposing affidavits stating the facts upon which the liability or defense is based. § 9-11-11.1(b)(2). If the defendant asserts that the plaintiff is a public figure, the plaintiff “shall be entitled to discovery on the sole issue of actual malice whenever actual malice is relevant to the court’s determination.” Id. All other discovery is stayed pending a final decision on the motion. § 9-11-11.1(d).
A trial court’s decision on the motion to dismiss or strike is immediately appealable. § 9-11-11.1(e). If the motion is granted, the court must award attorney’s fees and costs to the moving party. § 9-11-11.1(b.1). However, if the court finds that the motion was frivolous, attorney’s fees and costs shall be awarded to the nonmoving party. § 9-11-11.1(b.1).