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Mazzocone v. Willing

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					Willing v. Mazzocone, 393 A.2d 1155, 1978 Can the right to free speech be enjoined? Can defamatory speech be enjoined? Issue Reasoning
Framers of PA Constitution intended to prohibit prior restraints on PA citizens’ right to speak. Re Pointlesss: Exercise of Constitutional right to freely exercise one’s opinion should not be conditioned upon the economic status of the individual asserting the right. The insolvency of a Δ does not create a situation where there is no adequate remedy at law. o A legal remedy does not become inadequate because it appears uncollectible.

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Rule
PA Constitution: Every citizen may freely speak, write and print on any subject, being responsible for the abuse of that liberty. Equity lacks the power to enjoin the publication of defamatory matter. A court may not enjoin defamatory speech.

Facts
Indigent Willing got it in her head that the law firm defrauded her. In protest she put up a sign around her neck saying the law firm stole $ from her. When the law firm couldn’t get her to stop, it sought to enjoin her from further demonstrations.

(minority) A legal remedy does not become inadequate because it appears uncollectible.

Concur Dissent Held Proc П argues Δ argues

appellant's indigency does not justify the Superior Court's radical departure from the long-standing general rule that equity will not enjoin a defamation. <see next page> Equity court violated her state constitutional right to freely speak her opinion. Trial court enjoined her: court found that the law firm did not do anything wrong and that she was either eccentric or mentally ill. o Action of damages would be pointless since Δ is indigent. Appeals modified the order to make it narrower (it was too broad).

Mazzocone v. Willing, 369 A.2d 829, 1976 Issue Reasoning
Anyway, the right to practice law is a property right. Objection for refusing to enjoin defamation: o Δ would be denied right to jury trial where jury would pass on the falsity o Not an issue here since П clearly established that the statement was defamatory. o П has an adequate remedy at law. o Good professional and/or personal reputation is a unique and precious possession.  Damages are difficult to prove and measure accurately. o In this case, an action for damages would be pointless since Δ is indigent. o Not unreasonable to assume that unless restrained, she will persist. o To permit this would place П in the oppressive position of resorting to ineffective actions at law. o This cannot be an adequate remedy at law. o Enjoining defamation would be a prior restraint. o Supreme court has never declared that all injunctions of speech do not pass Constitutional muster. o Where the public interest is minimal or non-existent, then a publication which is also defamatory and unprivileged should be enjoined.  No public interest by her statements.  Injury to П’s reputation can be extensive and irreparable if he Δ is permitted to continue.

425

Rule
Equity protects both property and personal rights. Good professional and/or personal reputation is a unique and precious possession

Facts

Dissent Held Proc П argues

Unprepared to say that b/c proof of damages is difficult an action for defamation at law is inadequate. Order too broad; issuing a new and narrower order.


				
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