Devin Nunes' Virginia SLAPP Suits Causing Virginia Legislators To Consider A New Anti-SLAPP Law
from the perhaps-something-good-will-come-of-this dept
We’ve been covering all the various SLAPP suits filed by Devin Nunes against his critics, journalists, political operatives, and (most famously) a satirical internet cow. As we’ve noted, despite Nunes being a Representative from California, and despite the fact that many of the people and companies he’s targeting are California-based, he’s filed most of the suits in Virginia state court. The reasons for this seemed fairly obvious to many commentators. Virginia has a very weak anti-SLAPP law. California has a very robust one.
We were actually a bit surprised to see Nunes file one lawsuit in California, but he quickly dropped it to file a related lawsuit… back in Virginia. His one other non-Virginia lawsuit was filed in Iowa which has no anti-SLAPP law at all.
And while these lawsuits all appear to be frivolous attempts to intimidate critics and journalists, they may actually have a potentially good result. Legislators in Virginia have been inspired by this abuse of the judicial system to consider beefing up Virginia’s weak anti-SLAPP law:
Sen. John Edwards,… who will chair the Senate Courts of Justice Committee in the 2020 legislative session, said he?s already hearing from lawyers who want Virginia?s anti-SLAPP law strengthened in the wake of Nunes? actions.
One is Roanoke lawyer Mark Cathey, chairman of the Roanoke School Board. He emphasized he was speaking for himself and not for the board.
?Our courts shouldn?t be taken advantage of this way,? Cathey told me regarding Nunes? lawsuits.
The article also notes that another legislator, Scott Surovell, is also Adam Parkhomenko’s lawyer, the one who wrote that wonderful motion to quash Nunes’ subpoena of Parkhomenko, pointing out that cows don’t have opposable thumbs.
A Virginia lawmaker who?s urging legislative action is Sen. Scott Surovell, D-Fairfax. As an attorney, Surovell represents Adam Parkhomenko, a Democratic strategist whom Nunes has subpoenaed in an effort to learn the identity of the person behind Devin Nunes? Cow, a Twitter parody account that has lampooned the congressman.
Surovell called Nunes ?a serial SLAPP abuser? and added, ?There?s no question he specifically forum-shopped this SLAPP lawsuit [against Twitter] in Virginia.?
While these frivolous nuisance suits are a pain, and certainly unbecoming of a sitting member of Congress, it would be nice if the end result is the creation of another good state anti-SLAPP law.