Arizona’s anti-SLAPP law protects against SLAPP suits brought in retaliation for the exercise of one’s right to petition the government. Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. 12-751 (2011). Protected petition activities are statements made as part of an initiative, referendum or recall effort, or those submitted to a governmental body concerning an issue under review by that body to influence governmental action or results. Governmental proceedings before or to which these protected statements may be made or submitted include any non-judicial proceeding by an officer, official or body of the federal government or the state and any of its political subdivisions, including local boards and commissions.

The Arizona anti-SLAPP statute gives defendants the ability to file a motion to dismiss claims infringing the exercise of this right of petition. 12-752. The court must give “calendar preference” to the case and conduct an expedited hearing on the motion to dismiss.

Arizona’s anti-SLAPP law is one of only a handful to not address whether a SLAPP defendant’s motion to dispose of the claim will suspend discovery proceedings. The statute requires an Arizona court to grant the motion to dismiss unless the plaintiff can show that the defendant’s claimed exercise of the petition right lacked any reasonable factual support or arguable basis in law, and his acts caused actual injury to the plaintiff. In making this determination, the court considers the plaintiff’s complaint, the SLAPP defendant’s motion to dismiss and sworn statements containing facts on which the assertions in those documents are based.

If a SLAPP defendant prevails on a motion to dismiss, the statute mandates that the court award him court costs and attorney fees. Conversely, if the court finds that the motion to dismiss was frivolous or brought solely to delay the proceedings, it “shall” award costs and attorney fees to the prevailing plaintiff.