Hero of the Day: Debra H. Lehrmann

Justice Debra H. Lehrmann, originally from private practice in Fort Worth and recently re-elected to the Supreme Court of Texas, is a hero for her opinion in Kinney v. Barnes (Tex. 2014) 57 Tex. Sup. J. 1428:

The U.S. Supreme Court has long recognized that “prior restraints on speech and publication are the most serious and the least tolerable infringement on First Amendment rights.” … This cornerstone of First Amendment protections has been reaffirmed time and again by the Supreme Court, this Court, Texas courts of appeals, legal treatises, and even popular culture(7). (citations and other footnotes omitted)

Which actually is a thoroughly unremarkable condensation of the law. But as Marco Randazza points out, footnote 7 of her opinion (appearing on page five of the slip opinion, linked above) is a marvel:

(7) The Big Lebowski (PolyGram Filmed Entertainment & Working Title Films 1998) (“For your information, the Supreme Court has roundly rejected prior restraint.”).

Now, it stands to reason that this originally came from one of her law clerks, but Justice Lehrmann let it stay in her opinion, which is why she’s the hero. So now, you can legally cite to Walter Sobchak, thus: Kinney v. Barnes, 57 Tex. Sup. J. 1428 at n.7, (Tex. 2014) (citing SOBCHAK, W., THE BIG LEBOWSKI, 1998).

Mirabile dictu!

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous. Recovering litigator. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Lives in Southern California (for now). Former Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. Homebrewer. Atheist. Likes: respectful and intelligent dialogue, good wine, the Green Bay Packers, and long romantic walks on the beach. Dislikes: mass-produced barley pop, magical thinking, ketchup, and insincere people. If you follow him on Twitter at @burtlikko you may be disappointed.

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