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Maryland

The Maryland anti-SLAPP law is relatively narrow. It only protects defendants from claims based on their communications with government bodies or the public at large if the defendant, “without constitutional malice, reports on, comments on, rules on, challenges, opposes, or in any other way exercises rights under the First Amendment” or “the Maryland Declaration of Rights regarding any matter within the authority of a government body or any issue of public concern.” Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 5-807(c) (2019).

This law’s definition of a SLAPP suit also includes the unusual requirement that it be “[b]rought in bad faith” and “[i]ntended to inhibit or [does] inhibit[] the exercise of rights under the First Amendment” or the Maryland Declaration of Rights. § 5-807(c).

The Maryland anti-SLAPP law allows a defendant to move to dismiss the claim or to place the proceeding on hold until the matter about which he or she communicated to the government or the public is resolved. § 5-807(d). A court is required to hear the motion to dismiss “as soon as practicable.” § 5-807(d)(1).

The statute does not specify whether the filing of an anti-SLAPP motion halts discovery activities. The law does, however, allow a defendant to move to stay the proceedings until the matter about which the defendant communicated to the government body or public at large is resolved. § 5-807(d)(2). This stay would presumably extend to discovery proceedings. The statute does not specify what standard a court will use to decide these motions or what evidence it will consider in making this determination.

Maryland’s anti-SLAPP law does not address attorney’s fees or costs.