Injunction Prohibiting Defamatory Speech Permissable

The California Supreme Court has ruled that a court may issue an order prohibiting a defendant in a defamation case from repeating statements about the plaintiff that were deemed defamatory at trial.

The concern about such a ruling is that an injunction is a "prior restraint" and would be a violation of the right of free speech.  But the California Court thought to the contrary, and said that "preventing a person from speaking or publishing something that, allegedly, would constitute a libel if spoken or published is far different from issuing a posttrial injunction after a statement that already has been uttered has been found to constitute defamation. Prohibiting a person from making a statement or publishing a writing before that statement is spoken or the writing is published is far different from prohibiting a defendant from repeating a statement or republishing a writing that has been determined at trial to be defamatory and, thus, unlawful." 

The opinion has a nice collection of law around the country that reaches a similar result.  The dissent does a fine job collecting opinions to the contrary.

The case is Balboa Village Island Inn, Inc. v. Lemen, S127904 (Cal. S. C. 4/26/07).  Read the opinion here.

Contact Information