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California’s Anti-SLAPP Statute: New Case Law in 2016

In 2016, California state and federal appellate courts grappled with First Amendment protected freedom of speech issues in numerous critical rulings addressing the reach of the state’s anti-SLAPP statute – a powerful litigation tool intended to protect free speech. Codified in Code of Civil Procedure Section 425.16, the anti-SLAPP statute authorizes a special motion to strike claims that are asserted to suppress constitutionally protected expression, known as “Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation.”

The use of the anti-SLAPP motion has continued to expand during its nearly 25 years of existence, in part due to the sharp teeth embedded in the statute – including a stay of discovery, recovery of attorney fees and an immediate right to appeal.  California practitioners should understand five key decisions that were issued in 2016 by the California Supreme Court, California Courts of Appeal and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal, as they impact the future use of the anti-SLAPP motion as an offensive and defensive tactic. These decisions provide valuable direction on anti- SLAPP motions that may be raised against a wide variety of claims by both private and public litigants.