Judge’s order: do not write about this public official ever again

by Walter Olson on February 23, 2013

In a default judgment, a federal judge in Florida has ruled that Haitian-American journalist Leo Joseph defamed the prime minister of Haiti, Laurent Lamothe, as well as a South Florida businessman, in Joseph’s reporting in Haiti-Observateur about the sale of a state telecommunications company. “‘Leo Joseph is hereby permanently restrained from publishing future communications to any third-parties concerning or regarding’ Lamothe and [Patrice] Baker ‘in either their professional, personal or political lives,” said the order from federal district judge Ursula Ungaro.” [AP/Gainesville Sun; Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press]

{ 5 comments }

1 Scott Jacobs 02.24.13 at 2:39 am

Dear judges,

Prior restraint of speech is only allowed in very narrow instances – “someone might say mean things” isn’t one of them.

2 Mark Hartzler 02.24.13 at 4:57 pm

Even with a default judgment, the Court’s permanent injunction restraining Joseph from future communications regarding Lamothe and Baker appears unconstitutional. This isn’t a case during wartime or involving obscene material, but allegations of damage to a business and personal reputations. In their motion for a preliminary injunction (available on PACER), Lamothe and Baker said they didn’t seek a preliminary injunction that would constitute a prior restraint as they understood the limits of the injunctive relief available, but only sought removal of the three, subject articles. When the case went into default, plaintiffs went for the whole enchilada and the judge signed off on it. I suspect Joseph could get the injunction vacated. But he lives in New York and they sued in Florida, so he may have lacked the resources to defend against this federal action.

3 No Name Guy 02.24.13 at 9:06 pm

Ursula Ungaro, please report to remedial 1st Amendment Class immediately.

4 John Burgess 02.24.13 at 11:21 pm

I might settle for a 10-question, multiple-choice test on the Constitution. Passing with a 10/10 score is required to move onto the next stage of confirmation.

5 mojo 02.25.13 at 1:27 pm

Just a TAD over-broad, there, judgie-wudgie.

Comments on this entry are closed.