Cuomo signs anti-SLAPP legislation into law
Nov 25, 2020 2:00 pm
Ian Konrad is reporting for The Legislative Gazette Governor Andrew Cuomo this month signed legislation into law to protect New Yorkers’ First Amendment rights from lawsuits aimed at intimidating critics, journalists, or activists. In a SLAPP suit, an acronym for “strategic lawsuit against public participation,” the plaintiff's intention is not necessarily to win, but instead to bog down the defendant with excessive lawyer fees and to delay the legal process. The bill signed by Cuomo allows victims of SLAPP suits to be awarded legal fees if the case is found to be initiated in bad faith. The bill sponsor, state Senator Brad Hoylman, said, “With the signing of this bill, New York will have one of the strongest anti-SLAPP suit laws in the nation, protecting New Yorkers’ free speech from vindictive bullies.” President Donald Trump is notorious for taking legal action against his critics using SLAPP lawsuits. One notable example was filed ten years ago against journalist and author, Timothy O’Brien. While a reporter for The New York Times, he published a book, “TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald,” which included information that indicated Trump's net worth was much lower than he claimed. Trump lost the case and later said in an interview, “I spent a couple of bucks on legal fees and they spent a whole lot more. I did it to make [O’Brien’s] life miserable, which I’m happy about.” As of 2019, there were 30 states that have anti-SLAPP laws that make it difficult or unviable to pursue legal action in this way. Read the full story in The Legislative Gazette.