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Rhode Island Anti-SLAPP Acts & Laws

Last updated 2017-06-27

 

R.I.Gen.Laws § 9-33-1. Findings

 

The legislature finds and declares that full participation by persons and organizations and robust discussion of issues of public concern before the legislative, judicial, and administrative bodies and in other public fora are essential to the democratic process, 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 petition for the redress of grievances; that such litigation is disfavored and should be resolved quickly with minimum cost to citizens who have participated in matters of public concern.

 

R.I.Gen.Laws § 9-33-2. Conditional immunity

 

(a) A party's exercise of his or her right of petition or of free speech under the United States or Rhode Island constitutions in connection with a matter of public concern shall be conditionally immune from civil claims, counterclaims, or cross-claims. Such immunity will apply as a bar to any civil claim, counterclaim, or cross-claim directed at petition or free speech as defined in subsection (e) of this section, except if the petition or free speech constitutes a sham. The petition or free speech constitutes a sham only if it is not genuinely aimed at procuring favorable government action, result, or outcome, regardless of ultimate motive or purpose. The petition or free speech will be deemed to constitute a sham as defined in the previous sentence only if it is both:

 

(1) Objectively baseless in the sense that no reasonable person exercising the right of speech or petition could realistically expect success in procuring the government action, result, or outcome, and

 

(2) Subjectively baseless in the sense that it is actually an attempt to use the governmental process itself for its own direct effects. Use of outcome or result of the governmental process shall not constitute use of the governmental process itself for its own direct effects.

 

(b) The court shall stay all discovery proceedings in the action upon the filing of a motion asserting the immunity established by this section; provided, however, that the court, on motion and after a hearing and for good cause shown, may order that specified discovery be conducted. The stay of discovery shall remain in effect until notice of entry of the order ruling on the motion.

 

(c) The immunity established by this section may be asserted by an appropriate motion or by other appropriate means under the applicable rules of civil procedure.

 

(d) If the court grants the motion asserting the immunity established by this section, or if the party claiming lawful exercise of his or her right of petition or of free speech under the United States or Rhode Island constitutions in connection with a matter of public concern is, in fact, the eventual prevailing party at trial, the court shall award the prevailing party costs and reasonable attorney's fees, including those incurred for the motion and any related discovery matters. The court shall award compensatory damages and may award punitive damages upon a showing by the prevailing party that the responding party's claims, counterclaims, or cross-claims were frivolous or were brought with an intent to harass the party or otherwise inhibit the party's exercise of its right to petition or free speech under the United States or Rhode Island constitution. Nothing in this section shall affect or preclude the right of the party claiming lawful exercise of his or her right of petition or of free speech under the United States or Rhode Island constitutions to any remedy otherwise authorized by law.

 

(e) As used in this section, "a party's exercise of its right of petition or of free speech" shall mean any written or oral statement made before or submitted to a legislative, executive, or judicial body, or any other governmental proceeding; any written or oral statement made in connection with an issue under consideration or review by a legislative, executive, or judicial body, or any other governmental proceeding; or any written or oral statement made in connection with an issue of public concern.

 

R.I.Gen.Laws § 9-33-3. Intervention

 

Any governmental agency or subdivision to which the party's petition or free speech were directed or the attorney general may intervene to defend or otherwise support the party claiming lawful exercise of its right of petition or of free speech under United States or Rhode Island constitution.

 

R.I.Gen.Laws § 9-33-4. Construction of chapter

 

Nothing contained in this chapter shall be construed to limit or affect any additional constitutional, statutory, or common law protections of defendants in actions involving their exercise of rights of petition or of free speech.

 

 

Articles Content

STATES/TERRITORIES WITH ANTI-SLAPP LAWS: Arizona · Arkansas · California · Delaware · Florida · Georgia · Hawaii · Illinois · Indiana · Louisiana · Maine · Maryland · Massachusetts · Minnesota · Missouri · Nebraska · Nevada · New Mexico · New York · Oregon · Pennsylvania · Rhode Island · Tennessee · Texas · Utah · Vermont · Washington · District of Columbia

 

STATES/TERRITORIES NOT HAVING ANTI-SLAPP LAWS: Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands

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