Good News: Nevada's Strong Anti-SLAPP Law Is Constitutional
from the good-to-see dept
For many, many years we’ve talked about the importance of strong anti-SLAPP laws. In case you’re new to the subject, SLAPP stands for a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. In short, SLAPP suits are lawsuits where it is fairly obvious that the intent of the lawsuits is to stifle free speech, rather than for a legitimate purpose under the law. The intention of anti-SLAPP laws are to allow for such lawsuits to be tossed out of court quickly — and, frequently, to force those who bring those suits to pay legal fees. While actually getting a federal anti-SLAPP law is really important, for now, we’re left with a patchwork of state laws. While many (though not all) states have anti-SLAPP laws, they vary widely in terms of what they cover and just how strong or effective they are.
As we’ve pointed out in the past, a few years ago, Nevada passed a really great anti-SLAPP law, though it’s been under attack the past few years. Thankfully, Marc Randazza informs us that Nevada’s anti-SLAPP law has been found to be Constitutional, meaning that it will survive largely intact (a few changes had been made a few years ago to bolster the law’s likelihood of surviving).
Perhaps even more important was that the ruling basically recognized that Nevada’s anti-SLAPP statute was similar to California’s (much older and much more broadly litigated anti-SLAPP) law, and that Nevada courts can use California case law for its own anti-SLAPP cases. That’s also a good thing:
A secondary issue in the case, and an important one, is that the Nevada Supreme Court recognized that Nevada and California Anti-SLAPP jurisprudence are essentially one body of law. This is not entirely new law. In John v. Douglas Cnty. Sch. Dist., 125 Nev. 746 (2009), the Nevada Supreme Court held similarly, but this was discussing the prior version of the law….
The good news is that the Court reaffirmed the John v. Douglas County pronouncement that Nevada courts should rely on the rich body of California case-law in interpreting the Nevada statute. Given the scant case-law we have in Nevada, this is a godsend. California has interpreted “matter of public concern” as extremely broad. Meanwhile, I have seen Nevada trial court judges looking at the standard as much more narrow.
This is a good decision that brings more predictability to Anti-SLAPP litigation under the Nevada statute, and ultimately will function to keep Nevada’s free speech protections aligned with its free-speech-protective neighbor.
Another good win for an anti-SLAPP law. Now, if only more states (and the federal government) will adopt them and really protect free speech from legal bullying.