Code of the District of Columbia

Chapter 55. Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation.


§ 16–5501. Definitions.

For the purposes of this chapter, the term:

(1) “Act in furtherance of the right of advocacy on issues of public interest” means:

(A) Any written or oral statement made:

(i) 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

(ii) In a place open to the public or a public forum in connection with an issue of public interest; or

(B) 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.

(2) “Claim” includes any civil lawsuit, claim, complaint, cause of action, cross-claim, counterclaim, or other civil judicial pleading or filing requesting relief.

(3) “Issue of public interest” means 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. 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.

(4) “Personal identifying information” shall have the same meaning as provided in § 22-3227.01(3).


(Mar. 31, 2011, D.C. Law 18-351, § 2, 58 DCR 741; Sept. 26, 2012, D.C. Law 19-171, § 401, 59 DCR 6190.)

Editor's Notes

Section 401 of D.C. Law 19-171 enacted this chapter into law.


§ 16–5502. Special motion to dismiss.

(a) A party may file a special motion to dismiss any claim arising from an act in furtherance of the right of advocacy on issues of public interest within 45 days after service of the claim.

(b) If a party filing a special motion to dismiss under this section makes a prima facie showing that the claim at issue arises from an act in furtherance of the right of advocacy on issues of public interest, then the motion shall be granted unless the responding party demonstrates that the claim is likely to succeed on the merits, in which case the motion shall be denied.

(c)(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection, upon the filing of a special motion to dismiss, discovery proceedings on the claim shall be stayed until the motion has been disposed of.

(2) When it appears likely that targeted discovery will enable the plaintiff to defeat the motion and that the discovery will not be unduly burdensome, the court may order that specified discovery be conducted. Such an order may be conditioned upon the plaintiff paying any expenses incurred by the defendant in responding to such discovery.

(d) The court shall hold an expedited hearing on the special motion to dismiss, and issue a ruling as soon as practicable after the hearing. If the special motion to dismiss is granted, dismissal shall be with prejudice.


(Mar. 31, 2011, D.C. Law 18-351, § 3, 58 DCR 741; Apr. 20, 2012, D.C. Law 19-120, § 201, 58 DCR 11235; Sept. 26, 2012, D.C. Law 19-171, § 401, 59 DCR 6190.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 16-5504.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 19-120, in subsec. (c)(2), substituted “specified discovery” for “specialized discovery”.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 201 of Receiving Stolen Property and Public Safety Amendments Emergency Amendment Act of 2011 (D.C. Act 19-261, December 21, 2011, 58 DCR 11232).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 201 of Receiving Stolen Property and Public Safety Amendments Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2012 (D.C. Act 19-326, March 19, 2012, 59 DCR 2384).

Editor's Notes

Section 401 of D.C. Law 19-171 enacted this chapter into law.


§ 16–5503. Special motion to quash.

(a) A person whose personal 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.

(b) If a person bringing a special motion to quash under this section makes a prima facie showing that the underlying claim arises from an act in furtherance of the right of advocacy on issues of public interest, then the motion shall be granted unless the party seeking his or her personal identifying information demonstrates that the underlying claim is likely to succeed on the merits, in which case the motion shall be denied.


(Mar. 31, 2011, D.C. Law 18-351, § 4, 58 DCR 741; Sept. 26, 2012, D.C. Law 19-171, § 401, 59 DCR 6190.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 16-5504.

Editor's Notes

Section 401 of D.C. Law 19-171 enacted this chapter into law.


§ 16–5504. Fees and costs.

(a) The court may award a moving party who prevails, in whole or in part, on a motion brought under § 16-5502 or § 16-5503 the costs of litigation, including reasonable attorney fees.

(b) The court may award reasonable attorney fees and costs to the responding party only if the court finds that a motion brought under § 16-5502 or § 16-5503 is frivolous or is solely intended to cause unnecessary delay.


(Mar. 31, 2011, D.C. Law 18-351, § 5, 58 DCR 741; Sept. 26, 2012, D.C. Law 19-171, § 401, 59 DCR 6190.)

Editor's Notes

Section 401 of D.C. Law 19-171 enacted this chapter into law.


§ 16–5505. Exemptions.

This chapter shall not apply to any claim for relief brought against a person primarily engaged in the business of selling or leasing goods or services, if the statement or conduct from which the claim arises is:

(1) A representation of fact made for the purpose of promoting, securing, or completing sales or leases of, or commercial transactions in, the person’s goods or services; and

(2) The intended audience is an actual or potential buyer or customer.


(Mar. 31, 2011, D.C. Law 18-351, § 6, 58 DCR 741; Sept. 26, 2012, D.C. Law 19-171, § 401, 59 DCR 6190.)

Editor's Notes

Section 401 of D.C. Law 19-171 enacted this chapter into law.