Bruce Rosen Quoted on Decision

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has found that a federal judge wrongly ordered a litigant to stop sending letters to shareholders of a bank that sued him for embezzlement.

In vacating the order on Sept. 17, 2019, the appeals court said the magistrate and trial judges “marshaled no evidence that this restriction on speech was needed to protect” the fairness and integrity of the upcoming trial. And because the trial court did not consider less-restrictive alternatives, the order violates the litigant’s First Amendment rights, the three-judge appeals panel found.

Bank of Hope had sued Suk Joon Ryu, alleging money was embezzled from its customers. Ryu then sent letters to bank shareholders denying the accusations and saying the suit was harming his reputation. The bank asked the trial court to bar Ryu from sending the letters, and the trial court agreed.

But the appeals court said, “The First Amendment requires courts to tread warily when restricting litigants’ speech”

MARC partner Bruce Rosen was quoted in the New Jersey Law Journal as saying the decision “made clear there’s a rule now, at least in the Third Circuit, that if somebody wants to talk about their case, it’s not for the courts to restrain them simply to protect the decorum or integrity of the litigation. Clearly that’s not enough,” he said.

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