State-by-state guide

The following is a state-by-state guide to each jurisdiction’s anti-SLAPP law. Most of the information was compiled by Texas media attorney Laura Prather, a partner at the law firm of Sedgwick LLP, who was a driving force behind the state’s enactment of an anti-SLAPP statute this past legislative session.

This guide outlines:

  • the type of petition or free-speech activities that qualify for protection;

  • the procedural mechanisms and evidentiary standards required to obtain early dismissal of a SLAPP suit;

  • whether and to what extent an anti-SLAPP motion suspends discovery proceedings — the procedures by which parties to legal actions ask each other to produce documents, sit for a deposition or answer formal written questions;

  • the availability of immediate (meaning before the case proceeds to trial) appellate review of a trial court’s denial of a motion to dismiss or failure to rule on such in an expedited manner;

  • the availability of expedited review (meaning an accelerated briefing and hearing schedule when the case does end up before an appellate court);

  • the recovery of attorney fees and court costs incurred in defending a SLAPP suit, and whether an award of such is mandatory or permissive; and,

  • the availability of additional remedies such as actual or punitive damages, sanctions or a private cause of action.

Some references to case law have been included where courts have provided further guidance on the statute. Instances where the law of a jurisdiction differs significantly from that of others are noted.

This guide is meant as a general introduction for journalists to the state of the law concerning a specific statutory remedy available to some defendants sued for activities related to the exercise of their rights to free speech or to petition the government. It does not replace the legal advice from an attorney in one’s own state when confronted with a specific legal problem. Journalists who have additional questions or who need to find a lawyer with experience litigating these types of claims can contact the Reporters Committee at (800) 336-4243.