Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Joseph Lagana (D- Bergen/Passaic) and Troy Singleton (D-Burlington) to protect the public against lawsuits meant to silence healthy debate and criticism was approved Monday by the General Assembly.
The bill (A-3505) would address the problem of “SLAPP” lawsuits (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) brought against individuals who speak out about public issues. The intention of the plaintiffs who file these suits is not to win, but to stop defendants from voicing their criticism.
“SLAPP suits are nothing more than thinly veiled attempts to silence defendants by putting them through a costly and complicated legal process,” said Lagana. “This goes against our democratic ideals and is an abuse of our judicial system. This bill would allow defendants exercising their right to free speech to have these frivolous suits dismissed before they turn into procedural nightmares.”