The New Jersey Foundation for Open Government announces:
A Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) is the common term for a suit brought by a powerful plaintiff to intimidate and silence the opposition. The defendant in a SLAPP is unfairly burdened with the cost of defense, and those costs may not be recoverable. A public agency that files a SLAPP against a records requestor unfairly denies that person the recourse he or she would have had under the Open Public Records Act, which mandates reimbursement of the plaintiff’s costs in a successful suit.
On October 9th, the Assembly Judiciary Committee passed a bill that will provide a measure of relief to defendants and make well-funded entities think twice about filing a SLAPP. Bill A3505 assesses a $10,000 fine for SLAPP suits brought in bad faith and creates a process for a defendant to obtain quick dismissal and recover his or her costs. There is currently no companion bill in the Senate.
Per a legislative aide, the Assembly committee released the bill with amended language to clarify that if it becomes law, it would be effective immediately but not retroactively.
Talking Ed Note: Representatives worth contacting. Phone calls are preferred, both even better. Senator Brian Stack - (201) 721-5263 Email: SenStack@njleg.org Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (201) 714-4960 Email: AsmMukherji@njleg.org