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Public Act 095-0506


 

Public Act 0506 95TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY



 


 
Public Act 095-0506
 
SB1434 Enrolled LRB095 11109 AJO 31442 b

    AN ACT concerning citizen participation.
 
    Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois,
represented in the General Assembly:
 
    Section 1. Short title. This Act may be cited as the
Citizen Participation Act.
 
    Section 5. Public policy. Pursuant to the fundamental
philosophy of the American constitutional form of government,
it is declared to be the public policy of the State of Illinois
that the constitutional rights of citizens and organizations to
be involved and participate freely in the process of government
must be encouraged and safeguarded with great diligence. The
information, reports, opinions, claims, arguments, and other
expressions provided by citizens are vital to effective law
enforcement, the operation of government, the making of public
policy and decisions, and the continuation of representative
democracy. The laws, courts, and other agencies of this State
must provide the utmost protection for the free exercise of
these rights of petition, speech, association, and government
participation.
    Civil actions for money damages have been filed against
citizens and organizations of this State as a result of their
valid exercise of their constitutional rights to petition,
speak freely, associate freely, and otherwise participate in
and communicate with government. There has been a disturbing
increase in lawsuits termed "Strategic Lawsuits Against Public
Participation" in government or "SLAPPs" as they are popularly
called.
    The threat of SLAPPs significantly chills and diminishes
citizen participation in government, voluntary public service,
and the exercise of these important constitutional rights. This
abuse of the judicial process can and has been used as a means
of intimidating, harassing, or punishing citizens and
organizations for involving themselves in public affairs.
    It is in the public interest and it is the purpose of this
Act to strike a balance between the rights of persons to file
lawsuits for injury and the constitutional rights of persons to
petition, speak freely, associate freely, and otherwise
participate in government; to protect and encourage public
participation in government to the maximum extent permitted by
law; to establish an efficient process for identification and
adjudication of SLAPPs; and to provide for attorney's fees and
costs to prevailing movants.
 
    Section 10. Definitions. In this Act:
    "Government" includes a branch, department, agency,
instrumentality, official, employee, agent, or other person
acting under color of law of the United States, a state, a
subdivision of a state, or another public authority including
the electorate.
    "Person" includes any individual, corporation,
association, organization, partnership, 2 or more persons
having a joint or common interest, or other legal entity.
    "Judicial claim" or "claim" include any lawsuit, cause of
action, claim, cross-claim, counterclaim, or other judicial
pleading or filing alleging injury.
    "Motion" includes any motion to dismiss, for summary
judgment, or to strike, or any other judicial pleading filed to
dispose of a judicial claim.
    "Moving party" means any person on whose behalf a motion
described in subsection (a) of Section 20 is filed seeking
dismissal of a judicial claim.
    "Responding party" means any person against whom a motion
described in subsection (a) of Section 20 is filed.
 
    Section 15. Applicability. This Act applies to any motion
to dispose of a claim in a judicial proceeding on the grounds
that the claim is based on, relates to, or is in response to
any act or acts of the moving party in furtherance of the
moving party's rights of petition, speech, association, or to
otherwise participate in government.
    Acts in furtherance of the constitutional rights to
petition, speech, association, and participation in government
are immune from liability, regardless of intent or purpose,
except when not genuinely aimed at procuring favorable
government action, result, or outcome.
 
    Section 20. Motion procedure and standards.
    (a) On the filing of any motion as described in Section 15,
a hearing and decision on the motion must occur within 90 days
after notice of the motion is given to the respondent. An
appellate court shall expedite any appeal or other writ,
whether interlocutory or not, from a trial court order denying
that motion or from a trial court's failure to rule on that
motion within 90 days after that trial court order or failure
to rule.
    (b) Discovery shall be suspended pending a decision on the
motion. However, discovery may be taken, upon leave of court
for good cause shown, on the issue of whether the movants acts
are not immunized from, or are not in furtherance of acts
immunized from, liability by this Act.
    (c) The court shall grant the motion and dismiss the
judicial claim unless the court finds that the responding party
has produced clear and convincing evidence that the acts of the
moving party are not immunized from, or are not in furtherance
of acts immunized from, liability by this Act.
 
    Section 25. Attorney's fees and costs. The court shall
award a moving party who prevails in a motion under this Act
reasonable attorney's fees and costs incurred in connection
with the motion.
 
    Section 30. Construction of Act.
    (a) Nothing in this Act shall limit or preclude any rights
the moving party may have under any other constitutional,
statutory, case or common law, or rule provisions.
    (b) This Act shall be construed liberally to effectuate its
purposes and intent fully.
 
    Section 35. Severability. The provisions of this Act are
severable under Section 1.31 of the Statute on Statutes.
 
    Section 99. Effective date. This Act takes effect upon
becoming law.

Effective Date: 8/28/2007