27 Cal. W. L. Rev. 399 (1990-1991)
Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation: An Analysis of the Solutions

handle is hein.journals/cwlr27 and id is 405 raw text is: COMMENTS
STRATEGIC LAWSUITS AGAINST PUBLIC PARTICIPATION:
AN ANALYSIS OF THE SOLUTIONS
These people are being sued for the crimes of speaking up at City
Council and Planning Commission meetings and talking to their
neighbors. This lawsuit is an attempt to stop residents from voicing
their concerns in violation of their 1st Amendment rights.1
[W]e shudder to think of the chill our ruling would have on the
exercise of freedom of speech and the right to petition were we to
allow this lawsuit to proceed. The cost to society in terms of the
threat to our liberty and freedom is beyond calculation.2
The court perceives this, with a great deal of alarm, as part of a
growing trend of what have come to be known as SLAPP suits.3
INTRODUCTION
Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs)4 are a response by
1.   Fiore, Developers Slap Neighborhood Protesters With Suit, LA. Times, Aug. 31, 1990, Metro
sec., pt. B, at 10, col. 1 (quoting attorney Marc Allen Coleman). Congress shall make no law
respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the
freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition
the Government for a redress of grievances. U.S. CONST. amend. I.
2.   Webb v. Fury, 167 W. Va. 434,460,282 S.E.2d 28,43 (1981) (discussed in Section IV.A.,
infra).
3.   Westfield Partners, Ltd. v. Hogan, 740 F. Supp. 523, 524-25 (N.D. Ill. 1990) (The court
granted defendant's motion to dismiss claims of conspiracy, interference with prospective economic
advantage, slander, and claims for three million dollars in compensatory and one million dollars in
punitive damages. The defendants successfully petitioned to have a roadway they lived on vacated
as a public highway after the plaintiff developer announced plans for a new subdivision which would
have used that road as a main access route.), 744 F. Supp. 189 (N.D. Ill. 1990) (granting defendant's
motions for sanctions and attorney's fees). See also note 106, infra.
4.   This term was coined by two University of Denver professors, Penelope Canan and George
W. Pring. Two of their published works examine data collected on 100 SLAPPs. Their initial studies
establish the qualitative and quantitative analysis of this phenomenon. See Canan & Pring, Studying
StrategicLawsuitsAgainst PublicParticipation: Mixing Quantitative and QualitativeApproaches, 22 LAW
& Soc'Y RLrv. 385 (1988) [hereinafter Canan & Pring 1]; Canan & Pring, Strategic Lawsuits Against
Public Participation, 35 Soc. PROBS. 506 (1988) [hereinafter Canan & Pring 2]. Subsequently, Canan
and Pring's study was expanded to examine a total of 228 SLAPPS. See Pring, SLAPPs, Strategic
Lawsuits Against Public Participation, 7 PACE ENVIL. L REv. 3 (1989); Canan, The SLPP from a
Sociological Perspective, 7 PACE ENvT. L. REv. 23 (1989).

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