James P. Flynn, Managing Director of the Firm and Member in the Litigation and Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practices, in the firm’s Newark office, was a featured guest on the Courthouse News podcast, Sidebar, in the episode “No Laughing Matter.”

Following is a summary:

A note: this episode contains language that might make you or your nana blush. Pull up a chair as we bring you into the comedy club and beyond. Laughter may be the best medicine, but how does it hold up in court? Over the decades, courts carved out clear First Amendment protections for comics facing criminal obscenity and parodists taken a little too seriously. While the past informs the present, the rare joker can still find himself at the wrong end of the law over a Facebook post.

In our fifth episode this season, we break down how certain words are OK under the eyes of the law, courtesy of the infamous Lenny Bruce obscenity trials. We also delve into cases like Jerry Falwell's defamation lawsuit against Hustler magazine and the challenges of navigating social media and free speech. Spoiler alert: the First Amendment is not always so cut and dry, causing some parodists to find out the hard way that it does not protect all speech, funny or not.

Join us as we navigate the often amusing and sometimes controversial world of jokes and their legal consequences.

Special guests: Waylon Bailey, heavyweight boxer from Forest Hill, Louisiana. Douglas Linder, professor of law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. James Flynn, managing director at Epstein Becker Green. Caroline Grace Brothers, an attorney with the Institute for Justice. Anthony Novak, parodist from Parma, Ohio.

Jump to Page

Privacy Preference Center

When you visit any website, it may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. This information might be about you, your preferences or your device and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to. The information does not usually directly identify you, but it can give you a more personalized web experience. Because we respect your right to privacy, you can choose not to allow some types of cookies. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings. However, blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer.

Strictly Necessary Cookies

These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems. They are usually only set in response to actions made by you which amount to a request for services, such as setting your privacy preferences, logging in or filling in forms. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not then work. These cookies do not store any personally identifiable information.

Performance Cookies

These cookies allow us to count visits and traffic sources so we can measure and improve the performance of our site. They help us to know which pages are the most and least popular and see how visitors move around the site. All information these cookies collect is aggregated and therefore anonymous. If you do not allow these cookies we will not know when you have visited our site, and will not be able to monitor its performance.