High Court to Hear Case of Unhappy Cochran Client

The Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to hear a case in which a disgruntled former client of famed defense lawyer Johnnie Cochran (search) contends he was improperly ordered to stop picketing outside Cochran's office.

The Supreme Court said it would hear an appeal from Ulysses Tory (search), who argued he had a First Amendment right to picket outside Cochran's Los Angeles office to complain about the attorney's services.

At issue is whether the protests are an invasion of Cochran's privacy, or whether the client has a right to protest without undue restriction because the famous attorney is a public figure.

The challenge is to a 2002 ruling by a California judge ordering Tory to stop the demonstrations.

Cochran, who is best known for successfully defending O.J. Simpson (search) against double murder charges, had represented Tory in legal actions against Los Angeles County in 1983 but asked to be relieved as counsel two years later.

In the late 1990s, Tory staged public protests against Cochran, alleging that the lawyer owed him money and was unfit to practice law.

Cochran charged in a lawsuit that the protests wrongly defamed his reputation and invaded his privacy. A California judge in March 2002 agreed, rejecting Tory's claims that he was protected from defamation claims because Cochran was a public figure.

The case is Tory and Craft v. Cochran, 03-1488.