Covered Speech: A+
Anti-SLAPP Procedures: A+
Covered Speech: 100 out of 100 points
Anti-SLAPP Procedures: 100 out of 100 points
Detailed Scoring on Anti-SLAPP Procedures  
Suspension of Court Proceedings Upon an Anti-SLAPP Motion: 20 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

Signed into law in 2023, Utah’s Public Expression Act[1] “enacts the Uniform Public Expression Protection Act,” and hews closely to the Uniform Law Commission’s model law. The new statute covers any exercise of First Amendment rights on a matter of public concern and instructs courts to interpret the law broadly to protect such rights. Although discovery is stayed once an anti-SLAPP motion is filed, a court may nonetheless 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. This new law represents a dramatic improvement for Utah, which previously received a “D-” grade in our 2022 Anti-SLAPP Report Card. 

[1] Utah Code § 78B-25

Dan Greenberg, David Keating, & Helen Knowles-Gardner