A Little Known Requirement in the California anti-SLAPP Statute

I was not surprised last week when a Judge said that anti-SLAPP is a complicated area of law—it most certainly is. There are well over 350 published decisions on the subject, including several California Supreme court decisions. I often tell other lawyers that they need to be very careful in crafting their papers in support of or in opposition to an anti-SLAPP motion. One such piece of advice I often give is to be sure to comply with section 425.16(j)(1).

Section 425.16(j)(1) states:

“(j)(1) Any party who files a special motion to strike pursuant to this section, and any party who files an opposition to a special motion to strike, shall, promptly upon so filing, transmit to the Judicial Council, by e-mail or facsimile, a copy of the endorsed, filed caption page of the motion or opposition, a copy of any related notice of appeal or petition for a writ, and a conformed copy of any order issued pursuant to this section, including any order granting or denying a special motion to strike, discovery, or fees.”

This means that a party filing or opposing an anti-SLAPP motion must promptly transmit an endorsed copy of the caption page to the Judicial Council.

But what happens if the moving party fails to do so? Can the court deny the motion based on failure to comply with this provision alone?

Well, I came across an unpublished California decision in which the court decided that very question in the negative.

Here’s why:

  • The statute does not specify a penalty for non-compliance
  • There is no case law interpreting the statute to provide for a penalty for non-compliance
  • It was reasonable to conclude that if the legislature wanted to create such a penalty, it would have expressly done so
  • There was no prejudice to the other party

I think the court reached the right decision. The purpose of subdivision (j) is to monitor the number of anti-SLAPP motions and decisions to determine its effect—not to punish a non-complying party. However, you don’t want to be in the position of making the bulleted arguments mentioned above. So, make sure you promptly transmit an endorsed copy of the caption page to the Judicial Council. You can do so by e-mail at: SLAPP@jud.ca.gov.

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