When I wrote about the DC Superior Court’s decision in Payne v. District of Columbia last month, and about the federal court’s decision in Boley v. Atlantic Monthly Group last week, I mentioned how both courts applied California’s standard of review, which was notable because parties in DC have sparred over the applicable standard.
Well, those two decisions have not gone unnoticed by the parties in Mann v. National Review, Inc. – one of the high profile cases under the anti-SLAPP statute that is pending in DC Superior Court (see prior posts on the suit here and here).
Immediately after Judge Cordero issued her decision in Payne, Mann brought it to the attention of the judge presiding over his suit, pointing out that “[o]ne of the principal issues presented in the Defendants’ Motions to Dismiss is the standard that the Court should apply in assessing Anti-SLAPP motions,” and that, in resolving this question, the Payne court had cited and relied upon California decisions. In response, the defendants argued that this aspect of the Payne decision was wrong:
Payne is unconvincing to the extent that it departs from the burden on respondents specified by the D.C. Council. . . . The reasoning of Payne improperly disregards the D.C. Council’s deliberate choice, given its familiarity with the California statute, to adopt an approach more protective of free speech rights.
They also pointed out that Payne rejected one of Mann’s central arguments: that the anti-SLAPP statute was inapplicable because there was no evidence of “economic bullying.”
Then, immediately after Judge Walton issued his Boley decision, which also applied California’s standard, Mann brought it to the attention of the judge presiding over his case and, again, urged her to adopt it. The defendants responded by arguing that both Boley and Payne reflected the intent of the DC Council to dispose of “SLAPP suits at the earliest possible stage of litigation so as to reduce the burden on defendants and thereby prevent the chilling of the exercise of constitutionally protected rights.”