Panel passes watered-down version of 'anti-SLAPP' bill

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CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Nevada Assembly members have passed a watered-down version of a bill that would have made it easier to pursue a defamation lawsuit.

The Assembly Judiciary Committee passed a heavily amended version of SB444 on Friday. The original bill drew criticism from press freedom groups that said it gutted laws protecting reporters or citizens writing negative online reviews.

The bill changes rules deterring Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, also known as SLAPP lawsuits. The term signifies frivolous lawsuits meant to discourage someone from practicing their First Amendment rights.

The original version lowered the burden of proof a plaintiff needed to proceed with a defamation lawsuit, but the new version keeps the burden high.

The new version allows plaintiffs more time to respond when a defendant seeks to dismiss a defamation lawsuit.

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