Defamation & Anti-SLAPP Attorney
Americans have the right to criticize the wealthy, the powerful, the esteemed, and the connected. In theory. In practice, those very people often use the threat of defamation lawsuits to silence criticism and dissent, hoping that the ruinous cost of defending such a lawsuit will cause the average critic to fold, pay a small fine, and agree to stop their criticism. Frivolous lawsuits meant to chill speech are known as “SLAPPs” (strategic lawsuits against public participation).
Fortunately Georgia has joined an expanding coalition of states to adopt an anti-SLAPP statute . Under the statute, if you are sued for defamation, and you can prove that it was about a matter of public concern posted in a public forum, you can file an anti-SLAPP motion. This halts the case in its tracks. You will not have to comply with discovery, outside of one narrow area, until the motion is heard.
The judge must then schedule a hearing within 30 days. At the hearing, if the person suing you cannot establish that you have made a knowingly or recklessly false statement of fact about them that has injured their reputation, the case is dismissed. And that’s not all.
After dismissal, you are entitled to attorney’s fees. Assuming your lawyer’s fees are reasonable, you can reasonably expect to have the person who sued you pay for your legal defense.
Anti-SLAPPs are not to be used in every case—if they are filed without a good reason, you might wind up paying the other party some fees. But they are a powerful tool to protect your right to speak, and if you want to file and litigate one, you need a competent First Amendment attorney.
At Sessions & Fleischman, we will litigate your anti-SLAPP motion. We will file your answer. And if we win, the trial court may require the plaintiff to pay the entire cost of our services. There is no other area of law where you can reasonably expect the loser to pay, and no other type of lawsuit that can be resolved so quickly. If you are looking for passionate First Amendment advocacy in service of the common good, look no further.