Myers v. Fulbright, No. 17-59-M-DWM (JCL) (D. Mont.) June 6, 2017.
The federal district court in Montana has found no basis upon which to enter an injunction against enforcement of the state’s criminal defamation statute. The injunction was sought because, Attorney Myers asserted, the enforcement of the criminal libel statute impairs his ability to defend in pending disciplinary actions against him. Those disciplinary proceedings arose in connection with a 2016 campaign for county judgeship during which Myers alleged the incumbent used illegal drugs. Myers challenged the criminal libel statute because it contains no “actual malice” requirement and because its enforcement will inhibit Myer’s repetition of statements about the incumbent.
No injunction can issue, the federal court has found, because no irreparable harm can be shown where no criminal proceedings have been filed against Myers. Moreover, where only his past behavior is currently under investigation, there is no “chilling” of Myers’ or others’ current speech.