The parties to the instant appeal were once romantically involved. Some years after the end of their romantic relationship, Leibel sued Vrasic, alleging that, in the intervening years, she [Vrasic] had engaged in a pattern of harassment, i.e., she hacked into his email — sending offensive letters and a naked photograph of him to those on his contact list — and created a website, using his name, to pre-sell her book and to post an excerpt that included defamatory statements about him. Leibel’s complaint included claims for injunctive relief, defamation, invasion of privacy, credit card fraud, and cyberstalking. Leibel also petitioned the court for a temporary injunction, seeking to prevent Vrasic from making further defamatory statements about him, including the making of such statements through the use of her website and book….
[That temporary] injunction prohibits contact between Vrasic and Leibel and, among other things, enjoins Vrasic “[f]rom using the name or likeness of LEIBEL for commercial purposes”; “[f]rom using the words ‘Lorne’ together with ‘Leibel’ for any commercial purpose”; and “[f]rom publishing, selling, licensing, or leasing, or offering to publish, sell, license, or lease” her book “as previously published,” allowing her to publish a work only “so long as the work does not use the words ‘Lorne’ and/or ‘Leibel,’ alone or in any combination.”
Vrasic didn’t challenge the no-contact order, but challenged the injunction, and the court held that the injunction violated the First Amendment. Strikes me as quite correct, both because the injunction was a temporary injunction issued before a trial on the merits and was thus an unconstitutional prior restraint, and because the injunction wasn’t limited to libel, but covered even fully protected speech about Leibel. The surprising thing is that such a speech restriction was entered in the first place — but, as I note in my article about freedom of speech and criminal harassment laws, these sorts of restrictions on speech about a person have become more common in trial courts in the last several years.