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On Demand Audio

Anti-SLAPP Laws: Past, Present and Future

(829 reviews)

Produced on December 12, 2016

$ 89 Constitutional In Stock

Course Information

Time 92 minutes
Difficulty Beginner
Categories Constitutional

Course Description

Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (also known as “SLAPP” suits) are lawsuits filed simply to deter, chill, censor or harass people who have spoken or want to speak their minds. Though the term was first coined in the 1980s, SLAPP suits have been around as long as people have been communicating – or at least as long as the legal system has been used as a means for settling disputes over that communication. However, the impact of SLAPP suits has never been greater. With the Internet, everyone is a journalist or a columnist or a critic. But not everybody likes what is being said about them, and there are few barriers to filing a lawsuit when you think you’ve been wronged. The simple act of filing that suit has immediate and far reaching impact: the speaker, even if victorious, must spend time, money and other resources defending himself or herself in court; he or she may be deterred from speaking again in the future; others may be chilled from speaking as well.

In response, several states have passed “Anti-SLAPP” laws. These laws are designed to level the playing field for those speaking out on matters of public concern. Approximately 30 states and the District of Columbia have passed Anti-SLAPP laws, though there is a wide variation in their strength. These laws can not only accelerate the dismissal of a SLAPP lawsuit, thus saving a victorious defendant significant time and money (and stress), some also reimburse those defendants for attorney’s fees and court costs. Anti-SLAPP laws also serve as a strong and valuable deterrent to the filing of a SLAPP lawsuit in the first instance, which saves valuable public resources. At present, however, there is no federal Anti-SLAPP law, although several iterations, including the “Speak Free Act” (HR 2304 in the 114th Congress) have been introduced in recent years.

This course is presented by Evan Mascagni, the Policy Director for the Public Participation Project and Kevin M. Goldberg, a member at Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth, P.L.C, in Arlington, Virginia and a member of the Board of Directors of the Public Participation Project (the Public Participation Project is a 501(c)(4) organization dedicated to educating the public regarding SLAPPs and the consequences of these types of destructive lawsuits and to the passage of a federal Anti-SLAPP law). It reviews the history of SLAPP lawsuits and Anti-SLAPP laws passed in response, the recent and current status of Anti-SLAPP laws, and key lawsuits at the state level around the country. It examines the benefits of Anti-SLAPP laws and the best statutory language in existing laws to offer practical guidance in terms of identifying a SLAPP suit and possible use of an Anti-SLAPP law in defense. It also identifies the need for a federal Anti-SLAPP law and the legal considerations for and against the currently proposed Speak Free Act that are being debated in Congress. 

Learning Objectives:
  1. Explore SLAPP lawsuits
  2. Understand Anti-SLAPP laws, where they exist and how they might be used in defending against a SLAPP lawsuit, taking into consideration the lack of applicability in all jurisdictions and variation in statutory language among jurisdictions
  3. Examine possible “best practices” in statutory language that can be used to draft an Anti-SLAPP law in states where one does not exist or improve laws which do not offer adequate protection
  4. Identify arguments for and against the proposed federal Anti-SLAPP law


Kevin Goldberg

Digital Media Association

Kevin Goldberg is the VP, Legal for the Digital Media Association.  Before joining DiMA, he was a lawyer in private practice at two law firms, where he focused on First Amendment, FOIA and Intellectual Property Issues, especially those relating to newspaper and Internet publishing.

Kevin’s interest in these issues stems from an undergraduate major in communications, with a focus on TV/Radio and Journalism, at James Madison University, an institution from which he graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1992. After graduation from James Madison, Kevin attended law school at George Washington University. He was graduated with high honors in 1995.  He was also an adjunct professor at George Mason University for seven years, where he taught Journalism Law in the Communications Department. On March 16, 2006, he was inducted into the National Freedom of Information Hall of Fame for his continued and superlative service in pursuit of open government. He has written several articles on issues of importance to the media, is a regular speaker at local and national conferences and has appeared on major media such as MSNBC, NPR and Fox Television as a legal expert on content related issues.

Evan Mascagni

The Public Participation Project

Evan Mascagni is the Policy Director of the Public Participation Project. Prior to moving to New York City, he was an attorney with the California Anti-SLAPP Project, a public interest law firm and policy organization dedicated to fighting SLAPPs in California. He graduated, summa cum laude, from the University of the District of Columbia, David A. Clarke School of Law, where he was Editor-in-Chief of the UDC Law Review.


Jenny A.

passionate advocacy of the presenters

Dwight H.


Robert S.

Presenters' obvious enthusiasm for the topic makes this lecture very easy to listen to.

Richard S.

Very good explanation of the SLAPP.


Great seminar. These instructors are highly effective.

Mark W.

Very interesting

Gerald M.

Great stuff. Excellent summary presentation.

Paul K.

Well presented, not dry. Their enthusiasm for the subject made the lecture enjoyable

Beth M.

Excellent program. Very informative and useful.

Marjorie H.

Very interesting and engaging presenters.

Thomas W.

Good presentation. Speakers were very knowledgeable

Bonnie C.

Great finish!

JoAnne H.


Benjamin E.

Great program, great presenters,

Amy E.

Speakers were humorous, subject matter interesting. I enjoyed the examples they provided.

Mabel v.

i enjoyed the video they added to the presentation (informative & enjoyable) it made the presentation more than just the speakers and slides.

lawrence b.

the only course i enjoyed the whole way through

Robert M.

Excellent presentation with excellent Excellent examples of unjust Slapp lawsuits- and the need for a Federal Anti-Slapp Law. Excellent and interesting presentation.

Harriet B.

Good information. Easy to follow.

Theodore B.

Great presenters.

Brad N.


Jeff D.

I had little awareness of this important!

Charleen J.

Excellent course on this subject & interesting speakers.

Christopher B.

Both instructors had an excellent command of the subject matter. I do not do a lot of work in this area and still found it to be a very interesting presentation.

R. Christopher R.

Fascinating seminar!

nancy d.

Very informative.

Jessica K.


Robert S.

Brilliant & fun!

Linda H.

Both of them are good speakers, and the course was well structured and informative.

David B. M.


Lisa O.

Entertaining and informative - one of the best presentations I have seen.

Andrea M.

Timely and well presented.

Douglas A.

Very informative.

Elyssa L.

Great CLE! The presenters were obviously very passionate about the subject which made for a great lecture.

susan g.

This was particularly good. Speakers were entertaining and held my interest.

Gary T.

Very Informative.

Emily W.

Great job, guys!!!! Y'all were entertaining and informative !

Retha M.

The two presenters outlined this topic in a well-organized manner with lots of current examples. Good job.

Michelle C.


Sabrina B.

This was one of the best CLE programs I've ever attended. Speakers were engaging, interesting, and kept my attention, the subject-matter was highly relevant/they gave great real-life examples, and overall very informative but accessible content. Great job!!!

Jennifer R.

speakers made this enjoyable

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