Tory v. Cochran - Wikipedia

Tory v. Cochran
Argued March 22, 2005
Decided May 31, 2005
Full case nameUlysses Tory, et al., Petitioners v. Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr.
Citations544 U.S. 734 (more)
125 S. Ct. 2108; 161 L. Ed. 2d 1042; 2005 U.S. LEXIS 4347; 73 U.S.L.W. 4404; 33 Media L. Rep. 1737; 18 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 322
Case history
PriorOn writ of certiorari to the Court of Appeal of California, Second Appellate District
Court membership
Chief Justice
William Rehnquist
Associate Justices
John P. Stevens · Sandra Day O'Connor
Antonin Scalia · Anthony Kennedy
David Souter · Clarence Thomas
Ruth Bader Ginsburg · Stephen Breyer
Case opinions
MajorityBreyer, joined by Rehnquist, Stevens, O'Connor, Kennedy, Souter, Ginsburg
DissentThomas, joined by Scalia

Tory v. Cochran, 544 U.S. 734 (2005), is a United States Supreme Court case involving libel.


The case began in California with Johnnie Cochran, the famed attorney who represented O. J. Simpson, suing his former client Ulysses Tory for libel and invasion of privacy. Cochran had withdrawn as Tory's lawyer in a civil rights suit nearly twenty years earlier, and in the late 1990s Tory began picketing Cochran's office, carrying signs that accused him of being a thief and of accepting bribes. A trial judge ruled that Tory had made false and defamatory statements about Cochran, and instead of awarding him damages, issued an injunction ordering Tory to never again display a sign or speak about Cochran.

Tory appealed, arguing that the order was a prior restraint that violated his First Amendment right to free speech. In an unpublished opinion, the California Court of Appeals ruled that the order was constitutional. The California Supreme Court declined to review the case, and on April 24, 2004, Tory filed a petition for a writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court. The petition was granted, briefing followed, and the oral argument took place on March 22, 2005. Cochran died seven days later and the court asked for further briefing.

Opinion of the Court[edit]

On May 31, 2005, the court ruled 7–2 that in light of Cochran's death, the injunction limiting the demonstrations of Ulysses Tory "amounts to an overly broad prior restraint upon speech". Two justices, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, said that Cochran's death made it unnecessary for the court to rule.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Text of Tory v. Cochran, 544 U.S. 734 (2005) is available from: CourtListener  Findlaw  Google Scholar  Justia  OpenJurist  Oyez (oral argument audio)  Supreme Court (slip opinion) 
  • Tory v. Cochran Supreme Court docket
  • "Petitioners' brief in pdf" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2005-09-03.
  • "Brief amici curaie in pdf" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-10-31.
  • Supreme Court Oral Argument transcript