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Injunction May Bar Repeated Defamation, Court Rules

Posted Apr 26, 2007 2:37 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The California Supreme Court ruled (PDF) today that a defendant’s right to free speech would not be infringed by a narrowly tailored injunction barring her from repeating statements already determined to be defamatory at trial.

The defendant, Anne Lemen, lives near the plaintiff in the case, a restaurant and bar called the Balboa Island Village Inn in Newport Beach, Calif. She is a vocal critic, complaining of noise, videotaping customers leaving the establishment, and gathering opposition signatures on a petition, the opinion says.

The Village Inn sued Lemen after she told neighbors that child pornography, prostitution and drug sales were going on at the restaurant, and that it was involved with the Mafia, according to the opinion.

A narrow injunction barring repeated defamatory comments is not an unconstitutional prior restraint, the court said.

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