Maryland Courts and Judicial Proceedings Section 5-807

Article - Courts and Judicial Proceedings

§ 5-807.

      (a)      In this section, "SLAPP suit" means a strategic lawsuit against public participation.

      (b)      A lawsuit is a SLAPP suit if it is:

            (1)      Brought in bad faith against a party who has communicated with a federal, State, or local government body or the public at large to report on, comment on, rule on, challenge, oppose, or in any other way exercise rights under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution or Article 10, Article 13, or Article 40 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights regarding any matter within the authority of a government body;

            (2)      Materially related to the defendant's communication; and

            (3)      Intended to inhibit the exercise of rights under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution or Article 10, Article 13, or Article 40 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights.

      (c)      A defendant in a SLAPP suit is not civilly liable for communicating with a federal, State, or local government body or the public at large, if the defendant, without constitutional malice, reports on, comments on, rules on, challenges, opposes, or in any other way exercises rights under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution or Article 10, Article 13, or Article 40 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights regarding any matter within the authority of a government body.

      (d)      A defendant in an alleged SLAPP suit may move to:

            (1)      Dismiss the alleged SLAPP suit, in which case the court shall hold a hearing on the motion to dismiss as soon as practicable; or

            (2)      Stay all court proceedings until the matter about which the defendant communicated to the government body or the public at large is resolved.

      (e)      This section:

            (1)      Is applicable to SLAPP suits notwithstanding any other law or rule; and

            (2)      Does not diminish any equitable or legal right or remedy otherwise available to a defendant in a SLAPP suit.