June 4, 2019
Appeal from the United States District Court for the District
of New Jersey (D.C. No. 2-14-cv-01770) District Judge:
Honorable Jose L. Linares (Retired)
V. Dzara Stephen G. Harvey [ARGUED] Steve Harvey Law Counsel
Michael M. Yi [ARGUED] Lee Anav Chung White Kim Ruger &
Richter Counsel for Appellee Bank of Hope
Before: JORDAN, BIBAS, and MATEY, Circuit Judges
have inherent power to keep their proceedings fair and
orderly. They can use that power to order the parties before
them not to talk with each other, the press, and the public.
But that power comes with limits. The First Amendment
requires that we tread carefully when we restrict speech. A
court must thus explain why restricting speech advances a
substantial government interest, consider less-restrictive
alternatives, and ensure that any restriction does not sweep
Bank of Hope sued Suk Joon Ryu for embezzling money from its
customers. As the case went on, Ryu began sending letters to
the Bank's shareholders. Those letters alleged that the
Bank's claims were baseless and were ruining his
reputation. He hoped that the letters would pressure the Bank
to settle. The Bank then asked the magistrate judge to ban
Ryu from contacting its shareholders. The magistrate judge
agreed, and the District Court affirmed. But the District
Court marshaled no evidence that this restriction on speech
was needed to protect this trial's fairness and
integrity. And it considered no less-restrictive
alternatives. So its order violates Ryu's First Amendment
rights, and we will vacate and remand.
The Bank accused Ryu of embezzlement
helped found Wilshire Bank and worked there for decades as a
high-level executive. Things changed in 2013: Wil-shire Bank
went through a series of mergers and eventually became Bank
of Hope. That same year, Ryu left to work for another bank.
year later, the Bank found out that one of its employees,
Miye Chon, had stolen money from dozens of customers. She had
managed to embezzle more than a million dollars. The Bank
fired her, and she later pleaded guilty.
tried to take Ryu down with her. She alleged that Ryu had
taken part in the embezzlement and taken a sizable cut of the
proceeds. The Bank believed her and jumped into action: It
froze Ryu's personal account at the Bank. It shared its
suspicions with Ryu's new employer, which then fired him.
And it sued both Chon and Ryu to recover the embezzled funds.
denied any wrongdoing, and the government never charged him.
He also filed counterclaims against the Bank for various
torts and breach of contract. Thus began this litigation.
The District Court restrained Ryu's
can take a long time. Ryu grew impatient, so he took matters
into his own hands. He sent a letter to the Bank's chief
executive, denying any role in the embezzlement and dis-
paraging the evidence against him. He claimed that the
litigation was ruining his professional ...