Utah

Grade: D

Utah has a weak anti-SLAPP law. It was enacted in 2001.

Statute or Case Law? Any Forum? Any Public Issue? Mandatory Attorney Fees/Costs? Additional Burden? Amendment After Grant? Amendment While Pending? Immediate Appeal?
Utah Code Ann. section 78B-6-1401 – 5(2001) Y ? ? Y
 

UTAH CODE ANN. §§ 78B-6-1401 – 1405 (2001)

Participation in the mechanisms and procedures by which the legislative and executive branches of government make decisions, and the activities leading up to the decisions, including the exercise of the right to influence those decisions under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, is protected.

UTAH CODE ANN. § 78-58-105 provides that a SLAPP defendant may recover costs and reasonable attorney’s fees, upon a demonstration that the action involving public participation in the process of government was commenced or continued without a substantial basis in fact and law and could not be supported by a substantial argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law.  A defendant may recover other compensatory damages upon an additional demonstration that the action involving public participation in the process of government was commenced or continued for the purpose of harassing, intimidating, punishing, or otherwise maliciously inhibiting the free exercise of rights granted under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Update: On June 14, 2009, the Utah Supreme Court declined to broadly construe the statute, holding that speech about the qualifications of candidates for elected office is not protected by the anti-SLAPP statute (though it may be protected by the state’s common law public interest privilege).


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