Increasingly, corporations and some police officials around the country are seeking to silence their critics by filing actions known as SLAPP suits, or Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation. These suits aim to intimidate citizen activists with limited means by forcing them to spend time and money on baseless legal proceedings.
The ACLU assisted a grassroots group in Pierce County in fending off a SLAPP suit filed by Right-Price Recreation, a developer seeking to build several hundred houses in the historic Connell’s Prairie area. After a leader of the Connell’s Prairie Community Council spoke at a public meeting to accuse Right-Price of unlawfully circumventing the state’s Growth Management Act, the developer sued the group for making false statements and harming the company financially. Agreeing with the argument of an ACLU amicus brief, the Washington Court of Appeals rejected the developer’s demand that the advocacy group be forced to turn over its membership list and financial records. Cooperating attorney Jeff Fisher wrote the ACLU’s brief.