June 22, 2021

Preti Flaherty Attorneys Sig Schutz and Alex Harriman Assist with Amicus Brief in Defense of Maine's Anti-SLAPP Law

Serving as counsel for The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP) and 14 other news media organizations, Preti Flaherty attorneys Sigmund Schutz and Alexandra Harriman filed with the Maine Supreme Judicial Court a friend of the court brief defending Maine’s anti-SLAPP law, Title 14, Section 556 (14 M.R.S. § 556). The media coalition filed the amicus brief at the invitation of the Maine Court to address the interpretation and application of Maine's anti-SLAPP statute in a pending appeal, Thurlow v. Nelson. As the RCFP explains here, SLAPP is short for Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation. Anti-SLAPP statutes are intended to prevent people from using courts, and potential threats of a lawsuit, to intimidate people who are exercising their First Amendment rights.

The RCFP's amicus brief does not directly take a position on the merits of the underlying lawsuit and instead addresses three of questions of broad importance to the future of Maine’s anti-SLAPP law. First, it argues that the Maine statute does not violate the constitutional right to a jury trial, as no such right exists where there is no genuine issue of fact or where judgment is required as a matter of law. To the extent courts are asked to make pretrial factual determinations when deciding a special motion to dismiss under 14 M.R.S. § 556, such determinations mirror those routinely undertaken by courts in deciding other types of issues in the course of civil litigation. Second, the brief argues that the Court should not limit the definition of petitioning activity to apply only to those statements made in connection with zoning or other land development disputes. Finally, it urges the Court not to implement a process similar to that adopted by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, which would permit a non-moving party to avoid dismissal under 14 M.R.S. § 556 by establishing that it did not intend to interfere with the moving party's petitioning rights—a standard that would greatly weaken the protections to Maine people now available under the anti-SLAPP law.

The following groups signed on to the brief:

  • International Documentary Association
  • Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University
  • Maine Freedom of Information Coalition
  • Maine Press Association
  • The Media Institute
  • MPA - The Association of Magazine Media
  • National Press Photographers Association
  • New England First Amendment Coalition
  • The News Leaders Association
  • News Media Alliance
  • Radio Television Digital News Association
  • Society of Environmental Journalists
  • Society of Professional Journalists
  • Tully Center for Free Speech

Resources

Firm Highlights

Publication

The Latest from OSHA on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 at Work

On the tails of updated guidance from other agencies, the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration ("OSHA") released new pandemic-related guidance last month. This guidance was issued on June 10, 2021...

News

Maine Justice Foundation Makes Inaugural Grants to Six Maine Groups Working for Racial Justice and Equity

The Maine Justice Foundation has made inaugural grants from its Racial Justice Fund to six Maine groups. The goal of the Fund is to support Black, Indigenous, and People of Color statewide to forge...

News

Preti Flaherty Welcomes Attorneys Angelica Li and Hannah M. Oakes to the Firm

Preti Flaherty is pleased to announce the arrival of two new attorneys to our Boston, Massachusetts, office: Angelica Li and Hannah M. Oakes. Angelica joins the firm as an Associate in our Environmental Practice...

Publication

Legislative Alert: Maine Legislature Adjourns!

The First Special Session of the 130 th Legislature finally adjourned on Monday night, July 19 th . As many of you may remember, the First Regular Session ended in March 30th when the...

News

Fifteen Preti Flaherty Attorneys Selected as Chambers USA Leaders in Their Field

Fifteen Preti Flaherty attorneys and five practice groups have been selected for inclusion in the 2021 Chambers USA Guide to America's Leading Lawyers for Business , the highly regarded directory of leading attorneys and...

Publication

How to Avoid Misclassifying Your Employees Under the Maine Workers’ Compensation Act

What criteria are necessary to classify someone as an independent contractor and how can employers avoid misclassification and the repercussions that come with it? In this article, Preti Flaherty attorney and Mainebiz guest columnist John...

Publication

Escalation Clause: An escape from the price-spike trap

Anyone in real estate development would have to be living under a rock not to know about skyrocketing lumber and material prices in the “post”-pandemic world. Pre-pandemic, the average cost for 1,000 board feet...

News

Tim Bryant Named to Franchise Times 2021 “Legal Eagles”

For the thirteenth consecutive year, Preti Flaherty attorney Tim Bryant has been recognized as a Franchise Times magazine “Legal Eagle.” Nominated by their peers, franchise attorneys chosen for this honor are considered among the...

Publication

Maine’s Exemption Laws Are Changing

In March of this year, Representative Denise Tepler (D. Topsham) introduced “An Act To Increase the Value of Property Exempt from Attachment and Execution,” LD 737, which sought to dramatically change Maine’s exemption scheme. ...

News

Benchmark Litigation Names Preti Flaherty 2021 “Maine Firm of the Year”

Benchmark Litigation has named Preti Flaherty as 2021 Litigation Firm of the Year in the State of Maine. The Benchmark Awards honor distinguished litigators and law firms in all 50 states and 10 practice...