[Eugene Volokh] Beyond the First Amendment: Anti-Libel Injunctions and Prosecutorial Discretion

[I'm continuing to serialize my forthcoming Penn Law Review article on Anti-Libel Injunctions.] I've argued that criminal contempt prosecutions for violating anti-libel injunctions are similar to criminal libel prosecutions. But they are missing one important feature of most prosecutions—the normal prosecutor. In criminal libel prosecutions, a prosecutor exercises discretion about whether to prosecute. In criminal contempt proceedings, a judge would normally refer the case to the prosecutor's office, but if that office declines to act, the judge may appoint a special prosecutor. And in some states, the litigants could initiate the criminal contempt prosecution them­selves, or move for contempt and ask for the court to appoint their lawyers as the prosecutors. [In the federal system, the judge may not appoint the plaintiff's lawyer as prosecutor, Young v. United States ex rel. Vuitton et Fils SA, 481 U.S. 787 (1987), which may make it hard to find a…

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