Nevada Lawmakers Look to Undo Anti-SLAPP Laws

     CARSON CITY, Nev. (CNS) – A bill to change Nevada’s anti-SLAPP law is being examined in the Assembly Judiciary Committee after sailing through the state Senate earlier this month.
     SLAPP lawsuits — the acronym stands for “strategic lawsuit against participation” – are aimed at stifling free speech when individuals challenge a government action.
     Anti-SLAPP laws are meant to protect citizens against intimidation by threats of meritless lawsuits from the beneficiaries of those legislative or regulatory actions.
     Nevada’s current law, NRS 41.660, states a defendant must file a motion to dismiss the case within 60 days after service; the plaintiff must provide complete evidence the state they made was true; the court must rule within seven judicial days; and “the court shall award reasonable costs and attorney’s fees to the person against whom the action was brought.”
     Senate Bill 444, sponsored by the Senate Committee on Judiciary and casino mogul Steve Wynn, changes those rules in significant ways.
     First, it changes the filing day of motions to dismiss from 60 to 20 days; plaintiffs must “establish prima facie evident of each and every element of the claim, except such elements that require proof of the subjective intent or knowledge of the defendant” ; and repeals the current law’s guidelines regarding who should bear the financial burden of the trial.
     Although Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno, is not the primary sponsor of the bill, he spoke on its behalf during the Assembly judiciary committee hearing on April 24.
     “This is a reasonable bill,” Brower said. “My view is the 2013 law went too far.”
     However, many organizations and citizens in Nevada are furious about SB444.
     “[This bill] is a solution looking for a problem,” said Trevor Hayes on behalf of the Nevada Press Association.
     “The current law protects entertainment associations,” said Melissa Patack on behalf of the Motion Picture Association of America.
     Many who opposed the senate bill do so because they fear it infringes on their First Amendment rights.
     But Brower urged the committee not to be distracted by the “exaggerated rhetoric” he said now surrounds the bill, and to keep its “collective eye on the ball.”

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