The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press strongly supports legislation in the New York state legislature that would significantly improve protections for journalists and others facing frivolous strategic litigation against public participation, or SLAPP, lawsuits.
In a letter sent to New York lawmakers on July 20, 2020, the Reporters Committee notes that New York’s current anti-SLAPP law is unduly narrow, making it difficult for journalists and others to quickly dismiss SLAPP lawsuits before incurring significant legal fees.
The bills currently under consideration in the New York legislature — A. 5991-A and S. 52-A — would extend the current anti-SLAPP law to statements on matters of “public interest” more broadly, including those made in places open to the public and public forums. The bill would also provide a stay of discovery and other proceedings upon the filing of a motion to dismiss a SLAPP lawsuit, and it would then expedite consideration of the anti-SLAPP claim.
Additionally, the proposed legislation calls for strengthening the fee-shifting provision of the state’s law, mandating that a successful defendant of a SLAPP suit be awarded fees and costs.
“The mandatory fee-shifting is an important deterrent for SLAPPs,” the Reporters Committee letter states, “and is the approach taken in states with the most effective anti-SLAPP laws, such as California.”