Hawaii Court of Appeals Decision Shows Need for Federal Anti-SLAPP Law
Much narrower than many state anti-SLAPP laws, Hawaii’s anti-SLAPP law protects only against claims involving “oral or written testimony submitted or provided to a governmental body during the course of a governmental proceeding.” Haw. Rev. Stat. 634F-1 (2011). A recent decision by the Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals held that communicating to a mayor is not ‘testimony’ in a ‘proceeding’ so the anti-SLAPP law was inapplicable.
In Perry v. Perez-Wendt, No. 30329 (Feb. 8, 2013), a lawyer was in the running to be appointed as the County Attorney for the County of Kauai. Five of his brothers and sisters, however, opposed his appointment and not only communicated with the Mayor and county council to voice their thoughts, but filed a complaint with the attorney disciplinary board accusing him of some kind of professional misconduct (and told the mayor about it). The lawyer didn’t take kindly to this display of brotherly and sisterly love, and when he failed to get appointed to the position, he filed suit against them alleging defamation, interference with business relations, and other related claims.
This decision, and the narrow scope of Hawaii’s anti-SLAPP law, show the need for strong and robust federal anti-SLAPP legislation that would broadly protect free speech and petitioning actively.