Monthly Archives: August 2012
While we wait for the opening briefs in the Sherrod and Davis appeals, on August 2, Senator Jon Kyl (R-ARIZ), introduced the Free Press Act of 2012 which, if enacted, would create a federal anti-SLAPP statute. As explained by the First Amendment Center, “[u]nder the measure, the media could file a motion to dismiss a lawsuit that ‘arises in whole or in part’ from reporting ‘on a matter of public concern or that relates to a public official or figure.’”
Two relatively recent cases caught my eye and reinforced why it is so important that DC passed anti-SLAPP legislation last year. In King v. Hludzenski, filed in a New York state court north of Syracuse, the plaintiffs are former town officials and other public figures who allege that two bloggers, allegedly highly critical of the town’s plans to install wind farms, defamed them. And in Thomas v. Barrett, filed in a Michigan federal court, two animal rescue organizations and its owners allege that several North Carolina defendants defamed them by making comments on Facebook.
A group of leading news organizations and a related professional organization have asked the DC Circuit for leave to file an amicus brief in support of the appellants in Sherrod v. Breitbart and 3M v. Davis. Their motion explains that they “will argue that the District of Columbia Anti-SLAPP Act applies in federal court to diversity actions.” While this issue will be briefed, at length, by the parties to the appeals, the media’s motion argues that they “bring substantial experience to bear on the issues presented here – not simply in terms of legal expertise, but also in terms of …
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It has been a few weeks since I checked in on the Dean v. NBC cases. As you may recall, after significant briefing on the anti-SLAPP statute in the Superior Court, the plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed their suit there because they had refiled it in federal court (where Judge Wilkins and Judge Leon had held (here and here) that the anti-SLAPP statute was inapplicable).