Passed into law in 1992, California’s anti-SLAPP statute (prohibiting stra- tegic lawsuits against public participation, or SLAPPs) has evolved into a nuanced but powerful procedural device for litigants facing lawsuits arising from protected petitioning or speech activity. Found at Code of Civil Procedure sections 425.16 through 425.18, it presents a mechanism to defendants to strike potentially meritless causes of action early in liti- gation while obtaining a mandatory fee award. If used effectively, it can quickly transform the landscape of litigation.
Yet many attorneys who have not encountered California’s anti-SLAPP statute in litiga- tion assume it is an abstract and nebulous device, perhaps reserved only for the First Amendment specialist. Few practitioners consider it something with broad application that should be added to every standard California civil litigation checklist. This article provides an overview of California’s anti-SLAPP statute by considering its background, analytical framework, procedural advantages, and possible future evolution in light of recent case developments. Read more….