Lawsuits involving disgraced comedian Bill Cosby and the statements his lawyers made in his defense are now before the U.S. Supreme Court, raising significant issues about lawyers’ free speech rights as well as defamation and libel law.

Two cert petitions are pending review from the high court:

  • Cosby v. Dickinson, challenging a California Court of Appeal decision that said a defamation lawsuit brought by Janice Dickinson, one of Cosby’s alleged rape victims, against Cosby and his onetime lawyer Martin Singer of Lavely & Singer, could go forward in spite of precedents that protect the speech of lawyers who speak out on behalf of their clients. Singer was recently dismissed from the suit. The petition was filed last week.
  • McKee v. Cosby, asking whether Kathrine McKee, another alleged Cosby victim who sued Cosby for defamation, can be categorized as a public figure who cannot recover damages for defamation. The petition was filed in April. The court is expected to consider both cases in late September or thereafter to decide if they should be granted review. The cases are drawing interest, in part because the justices have not recently taken up disputes over libel and defamation, a part of First Amendment doctrine that is well-settled.

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