California
Subgrades  
Covered Speech: A+
Anti-SLAPP Procedures: A
Subscores  
Covered Speech: 100 out of 100 points
Anti-SLAPP Procedures: 98 out of 100 points
Detailed Scoring on Anti-SLAPP Procedures  
Suspension of Court Proceedings Upon an Anti-SLAPP Motion: 18 of 20 points
Burden of Proof on Plaintiff to Defeat an Anti-SLAPP Motion: 12 of 12 points
Right to an Immediate Appeal: 25 of 25 points
Award of Costs and Attorney Fees: 40 of 40 points
Expansive Statutory Interpretation Instruction to Courts: 3 of 3 points

State Anti-SLAPP Statute

California’s anti-SLAPP statute[1] protects “any act … in furtherance of the … right of petition or free speech under the United States Constitution or the California Constitution in connection with a public issue.”[2] Although discovery is stayed once an anti-SLAPP motion is filed, a court may nonetheless order that specified discovery be conducted if good cause is shown. To prevail against an anti-SLAPP motion, the respondent must establish a probability of prevailing at trial. California case law suggests that this probability is established if the respondent demonstrates both that the complaint is legally sufficient and that it is supported by a sufficient prima facie showing of facts to sustain a favorable judgment.[3] The statute provides for interlocutory appeal of an order granting or denying an anti-SLAPP motion. Except in narrow circumstances,[4] a court must award costs and attorney fees to the prevailing movant on an anti-SLAPP motion; conversely, if the court finds the motion to be frivolous or solely intended to cause unnecessary delay, then it must award costs and attorney fees to the prevailing respondent. The scope of California’s anti-SLAPP statute was subsequently modified in minor respects;[5] a detailed description of those modifications is beyond the scope of this summary. In general, the anti-SLAPP statute instructs courts to interpret the statute’s language “broadly” – an instruction presumably designed to foil readings of the statute in a cramped or narrow way that would exclude marginal cases.

[1] Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 425.16 through § 425.18.

[2] California case law suggests that the ‘commercial speech’ exception to the anti-SLAPP statute is narrow in scope. Simpson Strong-Tie Co., Inc. v. Gore, 49 Cal. 4th 12, 230 P.3d 1117, 109 Cal. Rptr. 3d 329 (Cal. May 17, 2010).

[3]  Matson v. Dvorak, 40 Cal. App. 4th 539, 46 Cal. Rptr. 2d 880 (Cal. Nov. 21, 1995).

[4] Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 425.16 (c)(2).

[5] Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 425.17.

Dan Greenberg & David Keating

https://www.ifs.org/author/dgreenburg/

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