Strategic lawsuit against public participation
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The acronym was coined in the 1980s by University of Denver professors Penelope Canan and George W. Pring. The term was originally defined as “a lawsuit involving communications made to influence a governmental action or outcome, which resulted in a civil complaint or counterclaim filed against nongovernment individuals or organizations on a substantive issue of some public interest or social significance.” It has since been defined more broadly to include suits about speech on any public issue.
According to New York Supreme Court Judge J. Nicholas Colabella, “Short of a gun to the head, a greater threat to First Amendment expression can scarcely be imagined.” A number of jurisdictions have made such suits illegal, provided that the appropriate standards of journalistic responsibility have been met by the critic.
- Barbra Streisand, as plaintiff, lost an anti-SLAPP motion after she sued an aerial photographer involved in the California Coastal Records Project. Streisand v. Adelman et al., in California Superior Court; Case SC077257  See Streisand effect
- Nationally syndicated talk radio host Tom Martino prevailed in an anti-SLAPP motion after he was sued for libel by a watercraft retailer. The case received national attention for its suggestion that no one reasonably expects objective facts from a typical talk show host. Gardner v. Martino
- Kim Shewalter and other neighborhood activists, as defendants, won an anti-SLAPP motion against apartment building owners because of the defendants’ protest activities. v. Shewalter.html Coltrain v. Shewalter
- Barry King and another Internet poster, as defendants, won an anti-SLAPP motion against corporate plaintiffs based on critical posts on an Internet financial message board. Global Telemedia v. Does
- Kathi Mills won an anti-SLAPP motion against the Atlanta Humane Society, Atlanta Humane Society v. Mills, in Gwinnett County (Georgia) Superior Court; case 01-A-13269-1 
- Karen Winner, the author of “Divorced From Justice,” published in 1996 by ReganBooks/Harper Collins, is recognized as “[the] catalyst for the changes that we adopted,” said Leo Milonas, a retired justice with the Appellate Division of the New York state courts who chaired a special commission that recommended the changes adopted by Chief Judge Judith Kaye. But in 1999, Winner, along with a psychologist/whistleblower, and several citizens were SLAPPed for criticizing the guardian ad litem system and a former judge in South Carolina. Winner’s report, “Findings on Judicial Practices & Court-appointed Personnel In The Family Courts In Dorchester, Charleston & Berkeley Counties, South Carolina” and citizen demonstrations led to the very first laws in South Carolina to establish minimum standards and licensing requirements for guardians ad litem — who represent the interests of children in court cases. The retaliatory SLAPP suits have been dragging on for nearly 10 years, with judgments totaling more than $11 million against the co-defendants collectively. Reflecting the retaliatory nature of these suits, at least one of the co-defendants is still waiting to find out from the judges, which particular statements if any he made were actually false.
- 1981-1986 Pacific Legal Foundation and San Luis Obispo filed a suit attempting to obtain the mailing list of the Abalone Alliance to get the group to pay for the police costs of the largest anti-nuclear civil-disobedience act in U.S. history at the Diablo Canyon nuclear facility. The Pacific Legal Foundation lost at every court level and withdrew the suit the day before it was due to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.