A San Diego court violated a retired teacher’s right to free speech when it barred her from mentioning on her website the name of a law firm, an appeals court ruled this week.
The ruling came out of a long and winding defamation case. Stutz, Artiano, Shinoff & Holtz, which frequently represents school districts, brought the suit against its acerbic critic, Maura Larkins.
Her blog once claimed “a culture of misrepresentation and deception exists at Stutz Artiano & Shinoff,” and that the firm intended to obstruct education law.
Two years ago, the two sides reached a settlement. The court said Larkins had to remove defamatory statements from her websites, including accusations of illegal or unethical conduct.
Larkins altered them. But the law firm argued that her websites still defamed them in other statements. After some back-and-forth, Judge Judith Hayes ordered Larkins to take any mention of Stutz Artiano off her websites and stop her from making new statements about them “by any method or media.”