By a unanimous vote in two rulings involving three cases, the California Supreme Court ruled that anti-SLAPP motions and their counterparts, SLAPP-back suits, can't be used by defendants to protect speech or activities that are illegal as a matter of law.
"'A contrary rule,' Justice Carlos Moreno wrote, 'would be inconsistent with the purpose of the anti-SLAPP statute as revealed by its language.'
"A Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation is a suit asserting that a plaintiff's suit -- often for defamation or malicious prosecution -- is an attempt to interfere with the business interests or free speech of the defendant. SLAPPs are often an attempt to intimidate the plaintiff or silence critics.
"Alan Charles Dell'Ario, a partner in Oakland's Dell'Ario & LeBoeuf who represented Soukup, said he was happy the court found his client 'had established the probable validity of her case' and 'debunked' the defendants' claims.
"'I can assure you she will be thrilled,' he said. 'And she gets a lot of credit. She did the petition for review -- pro per."