Today, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation expanding protections for New York journalists and others who face frivolous strategic lawsuits against public participation, or SLAPPs. Such lawsuits significantly chill news reporting and the flow of information to the public.
Among other changes, the legislation amends the state Civil Rights Law to require that costs and attorney’s fees be awarded to prevailing SLAPP defendants.
“We applaud New York lawmakers and Governor Cuomo for strengthening the state’s anti-SLAPP law,” said Gabe Rottman, director of the Technology and Press Freedom Project at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. “This legislation will help ensure that lawsuits aimed at silencing journalists and others who speak about matters of public interest can be dismissed more quickly, and that those who successfully defend against such lawsuits will be able to recover their attorneys’ fees and costs. These changes are a victory for the exercise of First Amendment rights and the free flow of information to the public.”
In July, the Reporters Committee sent a letter supporting the legislation to New York lawmakers, noting that the state’s law at the time was “unduly narrow,” making it difficult for journalists and others to quickly dismiss SLAPP lawsuits before incurring significant legal fees. Last week, the Reporters Committee reiterated that support in a letter to Gov. Cuomo that urged him to sign the legislation.
The Reporters Committee regularly files friend-of-the-court briefs and its attorneys represent journalists and news organizations pro bono in court cases that involve First Amendment freedoms, the newsgathering rights of journalists and access to public information. Stay up-to-date on our work by signing up for our monthly newsletter and following us on Twitter or Instagram.