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CalAttorney2
CalAttorney2, Attorney
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Experience:  Civil litigation attorney for individuals and businesses.
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Georgia Defamation Threat - Anti-SLAPP protection. I stood

Customer Question

Georgia Defamation Threat - Anti-SLAPP protection. I stood up to a corrupt condo board president. He had an attorney send me a "Demand Letter" giving me 30 days to submit a retraction to all named recipients. This was in response to an e-mail that I sent to an attorney with the state of Florida asking for a redress on a board proposed amendment that appears to be fraudulent. I can prove everything I stated in the e-mail as being honest & factual. The Georgia Anti-SLAPP is strong, but very narrow. Sometimes a little knowledge can be more dangerous than no knowledge. Based on my layman's knowledge, can I just send this attorney a Certified Letter stating that everything I stated in this letter is honest & factual? Any input would be helpful. The Georgia attorney is threatening me with O.C.GA 51-5-1. The Georgia Anti-SLAPP is Ga Code Ann. 9-11-11(b)
(SLAPP is Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation)
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Sam replied 1 year ago.

This is Samuel and I will discuss this and provide you information in this regard.

If you do not answer and you do not comply, they are going to sue you. And if you do reply and do not comply, you are going to be sued.

I suggest, that you hold your argument for the court. If you are reciting fact and are not telling absolute untruths about this person and know your statements to be absolute untruths, then they don't have a case.

To be successful they would need to prove that what you are stating is just an outright absolute lie with no basis for truth and that you did it with malice and intent to harm this person.

Expert:  Sam replied 1 year ago.

You can certainly reply with your information and provide all your evidence to the attorney. Or you can wait and present it to a court when you are sued. But if you do respond, I suggest you mail it certified mail

Expert:  Sam replied 1 year ago.

Certified with a return receipt requested so that you can show a judge that you tried to explain this out of court and show that your information is factual and that the suit is bogus and frivolous and request a dismissal.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Sam, thank you for your input, but I'm wanting a Georgia attorney who is knowledgeable about the Georgia Anti-SLAPP law.
Expert:  Sam replied 1 year ago.

Ok

I will opt out. Good luck with everything.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Sam, Thank you! I appreciate your immediate response. Have a great night.
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.

Dear Customer,

My name is***** am another expert on the forum.

I have had a fair amount of experience (and success) with Anti-SLAPP motions. Keep in mind, this motion is a procedural tool, so it is filed in place of a "responsive pleading" as the defendant's first moving paper in a lawsuit, in order to give the defendant an opportunity to dismiss an action early, as well as to have their attorney's fees compensated by the plaintiff for trying to quash free speech.

With the above procedural framework, your matter is still too early for an Anti-SLAPP motion (the HOA's attorney has only sent you a demand letter, you haven't actually been sued).

You can of course respond to the attorney if you wish, your response can be anywhere from "Dear Attorney, my statements are truthful, here are the facts" to "Dear Attorney, My apologies while my statements are truthful I do not want to engage in any form of litigation over this matter and will cease any further communication, but please note I will retain all rights and affirmative claims in the event your client does attempt a lawsuit" (you will need to identify what type of response you wish to draft - if you draft anything, unfortunately this is a strategy consideration, which we cannot advise you of on this forum, but as identified by the earlier expert - do send this via certified mail, and always keep copies of both outgoing and incoming correspondence).

If you are actually sued, then you will want to retain a civil litigation attorney to file your Anti-SLAPP motion. (Remember, to get an attorney's fees award, you must be represented by an attorney, so you have to have counsel, plus, statistically, you have a much better chance of success if you retain counsel than if you were to file "pro per" (on your own)). However, you can file an Anti-SLAPP motion on your own if you choose to do so.

The Anti-SLAPP motion must be filed within the same period of time as your responsive pleading, so you do not have a lot of time from the time that you are served with the complaint, to the time that you must file the motion (30 days from the date of service), or you will lose the opportunity to use this quick remedy (you can still use the same defenses, but you lose all of the other benefits of an Anti-SLAPP motion (quick dismissal, and attorney's fees award)).

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
William, Thank you for your quick response, but I'm looking for an attorney who is knowledgeable specifically about the Georgia Anti-SLAPP. Unfortunately, this would be my 2nd SLAPP, but the first was in FL. I was able to get that dismissed, but this could potentially be in Georgia by the same crooked condo board president. Standing up to corruption in FL wasn't easy. I'm already aware of the specific procedure for after the fraudulent lawsuit is filed. I would appreciate a Georgia attorney whose knowledgeable about Anti-SLAPPs here in Georgia. Each state has a different guideline.
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.

Dear Customer,

I'm not sure exactly what your question is then.

Here is a link to the overview specific to GA: http://www.dmlp.org/legal-guide/anti-slapp-law-georgia

And here is a synopsis of GA cases: http://www.gfaf.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/5.1-Synopsis-of-Georgia-Cases-c.pdf

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you again. I guess I what my question would be if there was any specific format I should address in responding to the attorney's Demand Letter. I was hoping a Georgia attorney would potentially give me a peace of mind with specific statements on the Georgia SLAPP. The first SLAPP was 100% fraudulent filed & served without the knowledge or authority of the board. It had to be done in secret since my husband was a board member.
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.

Keep in mind, all of the experts on this forum can provide you with "general legal information" only - none of us can provide you with formal legal advice or instruction (so nobody, in GA or not) is going to be able to provide you with an analysis of your claims.

I am taking at face value your post that you have stated truthful things about a board, or members of a board, and one or more of them have now retained an attorney in an attempt to make you retract or cease making further statements.

This is a classic "Anti-SLAPP" suit (you can see similar examples in the synopsis I provided).

If I were in your position and facing civil litigation, I would definitely make time to meet with a local attorney that I intended to have represent me in the event I was actually sued to discuss the risks and benefits of my position. As I am no doubt you are painfully aware, being a defendant in an Anti-SLAPP suit is not a pleasant ordeal, even when successful, as you are faced with uncertainty of succeeding, and the possibility of being mired in litigation for a long period of time (if unsuccessful litigation can take years).

Also, you will want to be comfortable with the attorney you plan to hire. As I noted above, the real "hammer" in an Anti-SLAPP suit is forcing the other side to pay your attorney's fees (especially with HOA boards and similar bodies who are used to having someone else pay their legal fees, this can be very useful). Since you are going to have to hire an attorney, you might as well contact one now and make sure that you have someone you trust that is ready to help you deal with the matter.

Additionally, speaking with an attorney now may give you additional leverage to head this thing off before anything gets filed (based on what you posted, I don't know if this is possible in your circumstances or not, but it is certainly a consideration I would have if I was in your shoes).