Washington, D.C.

Grade: A

D.C. has an excellent anti-SLAPP law. It was enacted in 2010.

Jurisdiction Statute or Case Law? Any Forum? Any Public Issue? Mandatory Attorney Fees/Costs? Additional Burden? Amendment After Grant? Amendment While Pending? Immediate Appeal?
D.C. D.C. Law 16-55014 Y Y Y5 N ? Y

4The D.C. Circuit has held, in Abbas v. Foreign Policy Group, 783 F.3d 1328 (D.C. Cir. 2015), that the DC anti-SLAPP statute conflicts with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and could not be applied in federal court in a diversity case.
5In Doe v. Burke, 133 A.3d 569, 576 (D.C. 2016), the court held that a successful SLAPP movant is presumptively entitled to recover attorney’s fees, without any additional showing of frivolousness or wrongful motivation.

The Council of the District of Columbia passed the Anti-SLAPP Act of 2010 (Law 18-351) on December 7, 2010.  The Mayor signed the bill on January 19, 2011 and the bill was submitted for Congressional review on February 2, 2011.  The new law became effective on March 31, 2011.

Under the law, any act in furtherance of the right of advocacy on issues of public interest will be protected.  Such acts include any written or oral statement made in connection with an issue under consideration or review by a legislative, executive, or judicial body, or any other official proceeding authorized by law; or in a place open to the public or a public forum in connection with an issue of public interest. 

In addition, any other expression, or expressive conduct, that involves petitioning the government, or communicating views to members of the public in connection with an issue of public interest, is protected.  An issue of public interest is defined, under the law, as an issue related to health or safety; environmental, economic, or community well-being; the District government; a public figure; or a good, product, or service in the market place.  However, the statue also dictates that the term “issue of public interest” shall not be construed to include private interests, such as statements directed primarily toward protecting the speaker’s commercial interests rather than toward commenting on, or sharing information about, a matter of public significance.

The law provides a defendant who is the target of a SLAPP with the right to file a special motion to dismiss which stays discovery.  If the Court grants the motion, it may award the defendant appropriate fees and costs.  Furthermore, a person whose personally identifying information is sought, pursuant to a discovery order, request, or subpoena, in connection with a claim arising from an act in furtherance of the right of advocacy on issues of public interest, may make a special motion to quash the discovery order, request, or subpoena.

D.C. SLAPP Stories: