The legal system exists to offer justice to litigants. However, influential entities can sometimes manipulate the bureaucracy to intimidate others or infringe on their rights.
For example, a person or organization might file a strategic lawsuit against public participation. This legal action attempts to dissuade another from exercising free speech against the filer. In response, the target of the SLAPP suit can file an anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss the case.
Meeting the deadlines
A crucial concern for a defendant facing a SLAPP suit is to file a motion promptly. California state law only gives the defendant 60 days. Though the law allows the court to accept later motions, judges vary in how they apply that provision. Defendants are often better to react sooner than later.
Making an argument that the case is frivolous
The defendant must draft a formal document that attacks the complaint on factual or legal grounds. The court first reviews the case to discover if the action the plaintiff is suing for is a protected activity, such as statements the defendant made during an official proceeding or expressions in a public forum that relate to matters of public interest.
The court then seeks to determine if the lawsuit is a frivolous attempt to occupy a defendant’s time and resources to limit free speech. The plaintiff must demonstrate a reasonable probability of winning the suit.
If the judge cannot find that the plaintiff has a minimal probability of victory, the court strikes the complaint and dismisses the suit. The court also orders the plaintiff to pay the defendant’s legal expenses.
However, the court can penalize the defendant if it decides the anti-SLAPP motion is frivolous. Many SLAPPs come from organizations and individuals with substantial resources, meaning defendants must prepare thoroughly to succeed with an anti-SLAPP motion.