Covered Speech: A+
Anti-SLAPP Procedures: A-
Covered Speech: 100 out of 100 points
Anti-SLAPP Procedures: 92 out of 100 points
Detailed Scoring on Anti-SLAPP Procedures  
Suspension of Court Proceedings Upon an Anti-SLAPP Motion: 12 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

Enacted in 2023, New Jersey’s anti-SLAPP law[1] hews closely to the Uniform Law Commission’s model law UPEPA, in both name and substance (the New Jersey law is entitled “Uniform Public Expression Protection Act”). It protects “the right of freedom of speech or of the press, the right to assembly or petition, or the right of association, guaranteed by the United State Constitution or the New Jersey Constitution, on a matter of public concern”; and the law states that it shall be “broadly construed” in favor of freedom of speech and of the press. The law does not require courts to issue a stay of proceedings once an anti-SLAPP motion is filed. Instead, the statute states that “the court may order” such a stay and that “there shall be a presumption that such a stay shall be granted.” A court may also order limited discovery “if a party shows that specific information is necessary to establish whether a party has satisfied or failed to satisfy” the burden of proof related to the order and that information is not reasonably available without discovery. A voluntary dismissal of the lawsuit by the respondent “does not affect a moving party’s right to obtain a ruling” and to “seek costs, attorney’s fees, and expenses.” The statute provides for interlocutory appeal of an order denying an anti-SLAPP motion. The court must award costs and attorney fees related to the action to the prevailing movant on an anti-SLAPP motion. Conversely, if the court finds the motion to be “frivolous or filed solely with intent to delay the proceeding,” then it must award costs and attorney fees related to the motion to the prevailing respondent. New Jersey did not previously have an anti-SLAPP statute on its books. 

[1] P.L.2023, c.155 

Dan Greenberg, David Keating, & Helen Knowles-Gardner