This is a question based on the same fact pattern as set forth in this question:

Can consumer Bob be gagged about a suit against Big Co. revealing major antitrust and policy-driven fraud causing widespread public safety issues?

With the exception of the presumed gag order would not be moved for by Big Co., but by the court.

What cases would support such a motion, if any?

1 Answer 1


As I read the hypothetical facts in the linked question Bob has not filed a suit against Big Co, because no law firm is willing and able to handle such a suit (which I find unlikely). BigCo has not filed a suit against Bob, perhaps because it does not want to draw attention to Bob's claims. So there is no suit in progress.

If this is true, no court has jurisdiction of the case, indeed there is no case in a legal sense. No US Court will reach out to take a case that no one has filed, and if one attempted to do so, I strongly suspect this would be a violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth or Fourteenth amendments, depending on whether it was a Federal or State court. If it were a Federal court, this would also violate the "Case or controversy" provision.

I can't find any report of any US court that has tried to do anything of the sort, so there is no case law to cite about the outcome of such an attempt.

If i have misunderstood the question, and either Bob or BigCo has in fact filed a suit, and some court has jurisdiction of it, then the situation is quite different. In that case a court can restrict publication of statements that might be likely to result in jury prejudice and deny one party's right to a fair trial.

However such orders are strongly disfavored. A court must demonstrate by findings of fact in the gag order that impairment to a fair trial is likely, and that he proposed order is the narrowest possible means of ensuring a fair trial, and that less restrictive methods, such as change of venue, a sequestered jury, or careful examination of potential jurors, cannot achieve this goal. It must also show that the order is the least restrictive order that will achieve the goal. If such findings are not included with the order, they order may be overturned promptly by a higher court on motion of either party, or of any third party (such as a news organization) affected by it.

The situation as described seems implausible.

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