The ACLU has been very engaged in fights
against SLAPP suits against enviros in
The only membership you should need to raise legitimate concerns about environmental issues should be membership in the human race. Legislative processes can be (at their best) a way for us to discuss what is that collective good and how to protect and provide it to all. Keep in mind that no one files something called a “SLAPP suit”. What they file is an action that on its surface has some vague sense of reasonableness -- interference with business practices, restraining orders, personal protection orders. Being taken into court even if it is an entirely trumped up and malicious claim is a distracting, energy sapping experience. One of the worst aspects of SLAPP suits is they seek to intimidate or embarrass the victim/targets out of speaking at all. It is not unheard of that only well after the opportunity to influence a process (a zoning decision, a DEQ permit, etc.) that the decision makers learned that people were afraid to speak because of a SLAPP threat. It is often the threat itself that is the insidious tool.
I think Dave Holtz is right -- this is an issue that deserves to be raised in the legislative arena now, again, with a demand that legislators commit to protect the public’s rights.
Anne Woiwode, State Director
Sierra Club Mackinac (
Behalf Of harrisc
so far the discussion has approached slapps as a legislative problem . . .
another way to approach slapps is as a collective good problem . . .
the way that persons interested in civil liberties dealt with the many small threats to civil liberties around the country was to form the american civil liberties union . . . it is my understanding that local and state chapters can call upon the resources of the national organization to oppose local threats to civil liberties . . .
one thing that is distinctive about the environmental movement, both at the national and at the state level, is that it is highly fractionated into many small organizations . . . if the environmental movement were to agree that slapps are one of its biggest problems, then environmental organizations could all contribute some fraction of their annual income to a u.s. environmental rights organization that would have sufficient financial resources to combat slapps . . .
craig k harris
department of sociology
kellogg biological station longterm ecological research project
national food safety and toxicology center
institute for food and agricultural standards
food safety policy center
firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of David Holtz
As a practical matter the burden for defendants in
SLAPP suites to overcome the good-faith standard this rule sets out is a high
hurdle only overcome by the cash they must lay out for legal fees that
goes to the heart of why SLAPP suits are a harrassment tool.
Anne Woiwode wrote:
. . .
Things are actually slightly better than this would
(1) he or she has read
Sanctions for Violation. If a
document is signed in violation of this rule, the court, on the motion of a
party or on its own initiative, shall impose upon the person who signed it, a
represented party, or both, an appropriate sanction, which may include an order
to pay to the other party or parties the amount of the reasonable expenses
incurred because of the filing of the document, including reasonable attorney
fees. The court may not assess punitive damages.
(1) Upon motion of any party, if a court finds that a civil action or defense to a civil action was frivolous, the court that conducts the civil action shall award to the prevailing party the costs and fees incurred by that party in connection with the civil action by assessing the costs and fees against the nonprevailing party and their attorney.
(2) The amount of costs and fees awarded under this section shall include all reasonable costs actually incurred by the prevailing party and any costs allowed by law or by court rule, including court costs and reasonable attorney fees.
(3) As used in this section:
(a) “Frivolous” means that at least 1 of the following conditions is met:
(i) The party's primary purpose in initiating the action or asserting the defense was to harass, embarrass, or injure the prevailing party.
(ii) The party had no reasonable basis to believe that the facts underlying that party's legal position were in fact true.
(iii) The party's legal position was devoid of arguable legal merit.
(b) “Prevailing party” means a party who wins on the entire record.