Covered Speech: A+
Anti-SLAPP Procedures: C+
Covered Speech: 100 out of 100 points
Anti-SLAPP Procedures: 70 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: 0 of 25 points
Award of Costs and Attorney Fees: 40 of 40 points
Expansive Statutory Interpretation Instruction to Courts: 0 of 3 points

How to Improve Louisiana’s Score

While the state already has a reasonably strong anti-SLAPP law, it could be significantly improved with one minor change. The law does not include a right to an “interlocutory” appeal. Speaking generally, that is a request to a higher court for it to decide a particular issue immediately. In most litigation, interlocutory appeals are difficult to obtain, so this right of appeal is an important feature of an anti-SLAPP law. Without it, a defendant who loses an anti-SLAPP motion would be forced to continue to litigate the entire trial before the finding on the motion could ever be appealed.

As attorney Ken White has eloquently explained, the provision of a right of interlocutory appeal creates a strong protection for First Amendment liberties, because it “dramatically reduces the coercive effect of filing a lawsuit targeting speech.”

With this one change, the anti-SLAPP procedures subgrade would rise to A and the overall grade would rise to A.

State Anti-SLAPP Statute

Louisiana’s anti-SLAPP statute[1] protects the acts of any person in furtherance of the right of free speech in connection with a public issue. Although discovery is stayed once an anti-SLAPP motion is filed, a court may nonetheless order specified discovery to be conducted if good cause is shown. To prevail against an anti-SLAPP motion, the respondent must establish a probability of success at trial. The statute does not provide for interlocutory appeal of an order granting or denying an anti-SLAPP motion. A court must award costs and attorney fees to the prevailing party on an anti-SLAPP motion.

[1] La. Code Civ. Proc. Ann. art. 971.

Dan Greenberg & David Keating