A bill that would make it easier for people to dismiss certain types of frivolous lawsuits was released by the Assembly Judiciary Committee Thursday.

Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi, R-Westwood, abstaining. Schepisi raised concerns about how it could be difficult to determine whether or not a lawsuit was frivolous or held actual merit. She said that as a public official, it was especially difficult to bring defamation suits against people even when they were warranted – she said she was wary of making that process even more difficult.

The bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Joseph Lagana, D-Paramus, is aimed at preventing lawsuits often referred to as SLAPP suits or Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. They are suits targeting individuals who speak out about politically sensitive issues. The lawsuits aren’t filed to win but are instead intended to saddle the defendant with legal fees and a myriad of court proceedings to get them to stop speaking out or protesting.

The committee released the bill on a 4-0 vote with Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi, R-Westwood, abstaining. Schepisi raised concerns about how it could be difficult to determine whether or not a lawsuit was frivolous or held actual merit. She said that as a public official, it was especially difficult to bring defamation suits against people even when they were warranted – she said she was wary of making that process even more difficult.

The legislation now heads to the full Assembly. There is currently no version of the bill in the Senate.