Monday, October 13, 2003

Free Speech Rights of Attorneys

Look out, lawyer bloggers....

The blog of

A Sassy Lawyer in Philippine Suburbia

refers to a decision just handed down by

New Britain Superior Court Judge William P. Murray in

Notopoulos v. Statewide Grievance Committee

a decision which is reported by Scott Brede in The Connecticut Law Tribune, October 13, 2003,

under the title

"No First Amendment Protection for Lawyer's Rants

Judge: high bar standards apply to attorneys' personal lives, too".

The above reported article is reproduced at

Notopoulos wrote a harshly critical letter to a Probate Judge and was reprimanded by the bar.

Notopoulos claimed he had a free-speech right, acting as a private citizen - not in his capacity as an attorney - to criticize the judge.

The court held:

"In the context of disciplinary proceedings, an attorney's right to free speech must be balanced with the state's interest in preserving the integrity of the judicial system," " ... Here, the significant state interest in preserving public confidence in the judicial system outweighs the free speech rights of Notopoulos to make reckless accusations about the integrity of a probate judge."

It is arguable whether Judge Murray's chilling decision concords with the

1974 federal court ruling in Polk v. The State Bar of Texas,

where U.S. District Court Judge Robert M. Dunn opined:

"This court rejects the contention ... that in order to maintain the general esteem of the public in the legal profession ... conduct of an attorney in all matters must be above and beyond that conduct of nonlawyers." However, Judge Murray does not refer to the Polk case, even though cited by Notopoulos.

The question remains: To what degree are the free-speech rights of a lawyer admitted to the bar, acting as a private citizen, limited by his responsibilities as an attorney and by the rules of his respective bar assocation. This has not come up yet with regard to opinions voiced in blogs, but I am sure it will. The bar associations will not leave out this opportunity to exert their powers over their members, as is their wont.

The ISandIS Network

Our Websites and Blogs: 3D Printing and More 99 is not 100 Aabecis AK Photo Blog Ancient Egypt Weblog Ancient Signs (the book) Ancient World Blog Anthropomorphic Design Archaeology Travel Photos (blog) Archaeology Travel Photos (Flickr) Archaeo Pundit Arts Pundit Astrology and Birth Baltic Coachman Bible Pundit Biotechnology Pundit Book Pundit Chronology of the Ancient World Computer Pundit DVD Pundit Easter Island Script Echolat Einstein’s Voice Energy Environment and Climate Blog Etruscan Bronze Liver of Piacenza EU Laws EU Legal EU Pundit FaceBook Pundit Gadget Pundit Garden Pundit Golf Pundit Google Pundit Gourmet Pundit Hand Proof HousePundit Human Migrations Idea Pundit Illyrian Language Indus Valley Script Infinity One : The Secret of the First Disk (the game) Jostandis Journal Pundit Kaulins Genealogy Blog Kaulinsium Kiel & Kieler Latvian Blog Law Pundit Blog LexiLine Group Lexiline Journal Library Pundit Lingwhizt LinkedIn Literary Pundit Magnifichess Make it Music Maps and Cartography Megalithic World Megaliths Blog) Minoan Culture Mutatis Mutandis Nanotech Pundit Nostratic Languages Official Pundit Phaistos Disc Pharaonic Hieroglyphs Photo Blog of the World Pinterest Prehistoric Art Pundit Private Wealth Blog PunditMania Quanticalian Quick to Travel Quill Pundit Road Pundit Shelfari SlideShare (akaulins) Sport Pundit Star Pundit Stars Stones and Scholars (blog) Stars Stones and Scholars (book) Stonehenge Pundit The Enchanted Glass Twitter Pundit UbiquitousPundit Vision of Change VoicePundit WatchPundit Wine Pundit Word Pundit xistmz YahooPundit zistmz