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Davidson v. Time Warner, Inc.
United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas
1997 WL 405907 (1997)
Ronald Howard was driving a stolen vehicle when he was pulled over by Officer Bill Davidson for a traffic violation. Howard then shot and killed Officer Davidson. At the time of the murder, the album 2Pacalypse Now was playing from the car’s stereo. The album featured music performed by rapper Tupac Shakur (defendant), which was produced and distributed by a recording company owned by Time Warner, Inc. (TW) (defendant). The music and lyrics were profane and violent in nature and contained anti-police sentiments. At his trial for capital murder, Howard claimed that Shakur’s music caused him to shoot Officer Davidson. Howard was convicted and sentenced to death. Officer Davidson’s surviving family members (plaintiffs) filed suit against Shakur and TW for wrongful death. The family alleged that the album should not have First Amendment protection because it was obscene, contained fighting words, and tended to incite imminent illegal conduct. Shakur and TW moved for summary judgment.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Rainey, J.)
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