ACT NO. 134
Court procedure; strategic lawsuits against public participation
This act addresses what are called strategic lawsuits against public participation. The general assembly found that there has been a disturbing increase in lawsuits brought primarily to chill the valid exercise of the constitutional rights of freedom of speech and freedom to petition government for the redress of grievances and that it is in the public interest to encourage continued participation in matters of public significance, and this participation should not be chilled through abuse of the judicial process.
The act permits a defendant in an action arising from the defendant's exercise, in connection with a public issue, of the right to freedom of speech or to petition the government for redress of grievances under the United States or Vermont Constitution to file a special motion to strike. The court is required to grant the special motion to strike unless the plaintiff shows that the defendant's exercise of his or her right to freedom of speech and to petition was devoid of any reasonable factual support and any arguable basis in law; and the defendant's acts caused actual injury to the plaintiff.
On or before July 1, 2007, the court administrator is required to report to the general assembly on the frequency and outcomes of special motions to strike made pursuant to this act.
Effective Date: July 1, 2006
The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street