Free Speech

Michigan Published Decision Authorizes Anti-Libel Injunctions


Several unpublished decisions had already allowed this, but this one is binding precedent; it's TT v. KL, decided yesterday (written by Justice Jane Markey and joined by Justices Mark Boonstra and Karen Fort Hood):

We thus choose to apply the modern trend and conclude that when a respondent
challenges a request for a PPO [personal protective order] on the basis that the PPO would prohibit constitutionally protected speech and the petitioner counters that the posted messages are defamatory, the petitioner need not show economic injury.

Consistent with the modern trend, the trier of fact must determine that the statements or posts were definitively false. The trial court here did so, and its ruling was supported by the evidence.

But to also be consistent with the modern trend, the PPO needs to be specifically limited to the adjudicated speech. In this case, the amended PPO prohibited respondent "from posting defamatory statements about [p]etitioner on social media and/or from publishing such statements elsewhere." This language is much too broad …. The trial court should have amended the PPO to provide that, absent petitioner's consent, respondent is prohibited from posting online messages which [make the specific factual assertion that had been adjudicated to be false] ….

This logic should equally apply to ordinary libel lawsuits that aren't funneled through the personal protective order statute. (Thanks to Michael F. Smith for the pointer.)

NEXT: Judge Rejects Most Sealing Requests in Peloton Case

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  1. Could someone please break this down into simple English for the legally impaired?

    1. It’s a prior restraint on continued freedom of speech in a libel case. Although “prior” is probably not correct legalese, and IANAL. Or, IOW, looks like someone lost a libel case, and part of the verdict is that the loser is prohibited from publishing defamatory statements about the winner, and this is not limited to just those statements found to be defamatory in the libel trial, but all defamatory statements.

      Makes me wonder how the loser will try to get around that by making new statements which he claims are not defamatory, which require a further trial to judge them, and which might be different from a regular defamatory statements trial. IANAL, see, I am just guessing out of thin air.

      1. Thanks … perfectly clear now :-J

        1. Oh heck, now I’m gonna get charged with practicing law without a license!

      2. Wrong on two respects. It is limited to the statements found libelous at trial, and as a result, it isn’t a “prior restraint”.

        1. By “prior restraint”, I meant in IANAL terms that it prohibited future speech, vice punishing past speech.

          I did miss the second part of that paragraph: “respondent is prohibited from posting online messages which [make the specific factual assertion that had been adjudicated to be false] ….”

  2. Justice Karen Fort Hood.

    I’d like to know the backstory on that one. Either a marriage which must have had plenty of jokes, or parents with a weird sense of humor.

    1. Also makes me wonder if Woke People will try to cancel her for the mistake of honoring a Confederate general.

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