Christian Research Inst. v. Alnor, 2007 WL 602954 (Cal. Ct. App. Feb. 28, 2007)

William Alnor, a former employee of the Christian Research Institute (CRI), maintains a website that reports on the fundraising and spending practices of various Christian organizations. Suspicious of CRI’s claims that it had lost a substantial amount of money as a result of the misdirection of certain of its mail by the postal service, Alnor investigated the “mishap” and reported on his website that a federal criminal mail fraud investigation had been launched against CRI and its leader Hank Hanegraaff. After CRI and Hanegraaff filed a defamation lawsuit against Alnor, he responded by filing a special motion to strike under the anti-SLAPP statute. The trial court denied the motion, but the Court of Appeal reversed, holding that although CRI and Hanegraaff had proved by a preponderance of the evidence that Alnor’s statements were false, they had failed to demonstrate a probability of prevailing by clear and convincing evidence that Alnor had made the challenged statement with “actual malice.”