TORY v. COCHRAN

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
03-1488
Petitioner 
Ulysses Tory, et al.
Respondent 
Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr.
Advocates
(argued the cause for Petitioners)
(argued the cause for Respondent)
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Facts of the Case 

Johnnie Cochran sued his former client Ulysses Tory in a California court for making defaming statements. Tory had tried to force Cochran to pay him money in exchange for desisting, Cochran argued. A judge agreed and ordered Tory to never talk about Cochran again. Tory appealed unsuccessfully in state court, arguing the order violated his First Amendment right to free speech. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case. Cochran died one week after oral argument.

Question 

Did a judge's order that someone stop making defaming statements about a public figure, even after that figure's death, violate the First Amendment right to free speech?

Conclusion 
Decision: 7 votes for Tory, 2 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Amendment 1: Speech, Press, and Assembly

Yes. In a 7-2 opinion delivered by Justice Stephen Breyer, the Court held that Cochran's death diminished the grounds for the judge's order and that the order therefore amounted to an overly broad prior restraint on speech. Tory could no longer try to force Cochran to pay him in exchange for desisting, the Court reasoned, ending the order's underlying justification.

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TORY v. COCHRAN. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 19 June 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2004/2004_03_1488>.
TORY v. COCHRAN, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2004/2004_03_1488 (last visited June 19, 2014).
"TORY v. COCHRAN," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed June 19, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2004/2004_03_1488.