“3.02 First Amendment Freedoms” – FLVS Journalism 1 Assignment

For this assessment you must research a current or recent First Amendment case by visiting the American Library Association . You will find a list of Notable First Amendment Court Cases you can use for this assignment.

You may want to review the tutorial on conducting research in order to effectively gather information. Read about a case that you find interesting.

Ask yourself the following questions about the case you are researching, and keep notes on your answers:

  • Has any similar case come before courts in the past? If so, how was it resolved?
  • Does this case deal with a person’s or a group’s freedom of speech?
  • Should the activity in question be restricted in all situations or just this one? It depends on the situation.
  • Would you want someone to take this right away from you? No
  • Who could be hurt if this right is upheld? I this right was upheld, there could be a lot of slander and libel flying around.  Who could be hurt if it is removed? No one would be hurt if it was removed, but it would certainly be unconstitutional.

Once you have answered these questions, use your notes to draft a multi-paragraph (3-5 paragraphs) essay describing the case. You should include the following: summary of case, significance of case, and your opinion on the case/outcome. List any sources you consult.


For this assignment I will be using the Tory vs. Cochran case of 2005.

In 2005, A famous defense attorney by the name of Johnnie Cochran, famously noted for the defense of his client O.J. Simpson, was targeted by a former client of his with libelous accusations and protests, for withdrawing as his defense attorney 20 years prior. Cochran’s former client, Ulysses Tory, spread his libelous accusations by picketing with signs and other types of slanderous material, displayed in front of Cochran’s office. Cochran sued Tory for damages.

The outcome was a trial judge issuing an injunction ordering Tory to discontinue his pickets and slanderous speech against Cochran, permanently. Tory came back with an appeal, arguing that the order was a direct violation of his First amendment right to free speech, but the California Court of appeals ruled that the order was constitutional. 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.

This case represents a very important angle of the argument for and against free speech. On the Pro side, as citizens of the United States, it is our right to be able to picket and expose the evils of another person, organization or administration. Whether our opinions are in favor or against the individual, organization, or administration. On the Cons side, I think it was very disrespectful and wrong of Tory to claim untrue things about Cochran. To picket his office, with signs claiming lies about Cochran, in my opinion was a very juvenile thing to do.

I agree with the judge who, instead of awarding damages to Tory, he wisely ordered Tory to stop picketing and saying lies about Cochran. I think that the judge taking away that right, in that instance was constitutional. We should not take away this right, in all cases, though. Look at all the things that have been made better and fixed by a few picketing folks. Women’s rights, women’s right to vote, civil rights, the list goes on. Tory abused his own right to free speech, and thus suffered the consequences.

“3.04 Slander and Libel” – FLVS Journalism 1 Assignment

For this assessment you will be the judge!

Choose from one of the following three hypothetical situations to determine how you believe the law should apply. Make a determination about what you believe the outcome of the case should be. If someone should be sentenced, then write a specific sentence for that case. Use what you know about libel and slander to make and defend your point.

Make sure your submission meets the following guidelines:

  • You have identified your case as being a case of libel OR slander.
  • Your sentence or decision about the case should be at least 50 words.
  • Cite any sources you use.
  • Write in paragraph form.
  • Use proper spelling and grammar.

Select one of the following three cases for your assignment.

  1. A television reporter states that a witness is intoxicated and unable to properly describe the details of the scene. The witness sues the news organization for defamation of her character, explaining that she was not intoxicated at the time.
  2. A teenager posts a blog about an ex-boyfriend, listing several of his personal and physical flaws. The ex-boyfriend responds by posting a blog of his own that states several untruths about the person who posted the original blog. Both parties’ parents sue each other for defamation of character.
  3. A high school prints a monthly bulletin for students and parents. In it the administrators post the license plates of vehicles they contend have been speeding in the school zone. Several parents sue, stating that they have been unjustly identified.


Okay, so the situation I choose, is #2.

The teenager that started this whole mess, sadly it was the girl, is at fault the most. Posting a blog post about your ex, is just a juvenile way to handle things, in my opinion. A blog post about your ex’s faults, and unattractive qualities would be under the category of libel. Unfortunately this mess didn’t stop there. The ex boyfriend then retaliates with more libel about his ex girlfriend, yet another act of juvenile behavior. Both parties are at fault, but I would say that the girl is more at fault than the guy, because, if she had just kept her mouth shut, then we would not have this huge mess to begin with. The same goes for the guy though, if he had just ignored the comments of his ex girlfriend, and not retaliated, then we would not have cause to think that A) the girlfriend’s were possibly somewhat true, and B) we would not have the parents of both parties involved, suing each other. In this particular case, I would charge both parties accordingly, otherwise we might have yet another occurrence of this situation, and/or another lawsuit.