Using the recent federal district court opinions in Hill v. Cosby and Green v. Cosby as analytical springboards, this timely Article explores problems with the concept of pure opinion in libel law. Specifically, Hill and Green pivoted on the same allegedly defamatory statement attorney Martin Singer made on behalf of comedian Bill Cosby, yet the judges involved reached opposite conclusions regarding whether it was protected as pure opinion. Furthermore, this Article analyzes notions of counterspeech and the conditional self-defense privilege in libel law in arguing for shielding Singer’s statement from liability. Although the self- defense privilege was flatly rejected in Green because it was not recognized under the relevant state law, it merits renewed consideration in similar cases where attorneys verbally punch back against their clients’ accusers in the court of public opinion.
Counterspeech, Cosby, and Libel Law: Some Lessons About “Pure Opinion” & Resuscitating the Self-Defense Privilege,
69 Fla. L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.law.ufl.edu/flr/vol69/iss1/4