What are the stages of SLAPP litigation?

Here is a brief outline of the typical stages of anti-SLAPP litigation:

After being served with a Complaint, a defendant will have 30 calendar days in which to file a responsive pleading. Typically a responsive pleading comes in the form of an answer, motion to strike, demurrer, or other such document. Defendant will then have 60 days from the date he is served in which to file an anti-SLAPP motion. Once the anti-SLAPP motion is filed, all discovery is stayed in the case. Discovery is the method by which the parties exchange information with one another, and is typically the most expensive part of litigation. Seeking to reduce the cost of litigation to SLAPP targets, the law freezes discovery until the motion is decided by the judge, unless the plaintiff makes a motion for specified discovery, which is granted by the court.

Following the filing of the anti-SLAPP motion, the plaintiff will have an opportunity to respond. This is called an opposition, which will typically include a memorandum of points and authorities in opposition to the anti-SLAPP motion, declarations, evidence, and objections to defendant’s evidence. Plaintiff’s opposition must be filed no later than 9 court days before the scheduled hearing. Defendant will then have an opportunity to respond to the opposition. This is called a reply, and will generally include a memorandum of points and authorities as well as supplemental declarations, evidence, and objections to plaintiff’s evidence.

As I mentioned above, in some cases, prior to the anti-SLAPP motion being decided, the plaintiff will seek limited discovery on certain issues. If the Court grants the motion, the anti-SLAPP motion hearing will likely be continued and the plaintiff will be allowed to conduct limited discovery, e.g., a short deposition or obtain documents. If the Court denies the motion for discovery, then the anti-SLAPP hearing will proceed.

At the hearing on the anti-SLAPP motion, assuming there are multiple causes of action, the Court will determine whether defendant has successfully defeated one or more of plaintiff’s claims. If defendant is successful, defendant can ask the Court for its reasonable attorneys’ fees in defending against the SLAPP.

After the anti-SLAPP motion is decided, either party may immediately appeal the Court’s decision. If defendant is successful at the appellate level, then defendant may incur any fees he has incurred at the appellate level.


  1. UN, MD says

    Great blog. Very informative and cuts down on the legalese that is sometimes bewildering.

    Would it be okay if you continued this educational short-story with an explanation of the appeal process of a defeated anti-SLAPP, i.e.,
    -what’s the deadline to submit the actual appeal after a notice of appeal is filed;
    -is the stay on discovery from an anti=SLAPP motion continued during the appeal of said (defeated) anti-SLAPP (and if so, WHY?????? I mean, how many freaking delays can a defendant impose and why doesn’t the court view this delay tactic as frivolous and posturing?);
    -why, after six months since a notice of appeal of a defeated anti-SLAPP is filed, does the court not compel the defendant to file the actual appeal (i.e., why does a simple “notice of/to appeal” yield such power as to halt the service of justice?)
    -why are atty’s fees automatically awarded to the defendant who is successful in his anti-SLAPP motion while it is rare for the plaintiff to receive the same? Why is the threshold for the reverse so high, i.e., the anti-SLAPP was frivolous or intended solely to delay?
    Nevermind. Scratch that. Just found this: http://www.casp.net/uncategorized/personal-court-reporters-inc-v-rand-and-the-problem-of-frivolous-anti-slapp-motions/ (very heavy in the legalese unlike yours which is more layman friendly but now that I’m becoming more fluent in it, not as intimidating or obfuscating as when I first found it last year)

    I like your website. Wish I would have found it sooner before it took my going blind reading and rereading CCP 426.16 and 426.17. Would you be willing to hear the case of a young doctor whose promising career and life has been effectively destroyed by the false and defamatory online publication put forth by another state medical board?

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