Suspended for Speech: Five Years for False Claims of Judicial Misconduct

Earlier this month, Don Bailey’s law license was suspended for five years. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, the state’s highest court, issued the sanction recommended by the Pennsylvania Disciplinary Board. The ground for the sanction that could potentially end the 68-year-old attorney’s law career was his falsely accusing federal judges of malfeasance. Specifically, Bailey openly stated that certain judges in the U.S. Middle District of Pennsylvania were not only dismissing his cases without basis, but also participating in criminal activities including cults.

Don Bailey, currently a civil rights attorney, served as the state auditor general in the late 1980’s. Just three years ago, Bailey was issued a $50,000 fine from a federal court for alleging claims of judicial misconduct and fraud.

Although Bailey has vocalized his distaste for the judicial system by alleging that the judges are “tainted” and “corrupt,” his current clients are displeased with the court’s sanction. Many of Bailey’s clients have stressed that they “can’t get anyone else to help [them].” Bailey is not giving up so easily, as he fully intends to appeal the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania’s decision to Federal Court. The Disciplinary Board recommended the long suspension because of Bailey’s refusal to take responsibility for his false allegations. Bailey, however, fully believes that the judicial system is conspiring against him because of his desire to bring controversial issues to the forefront. Although not discussed in the article, the ABA Model Rules provides that a lawyer “shall not make a statement that [he] knows to be false or with reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity concerning the qualifications or integrity of a judge. . . .”

Is Bailey’s right to free speech being violated? Should he be allowed to make free and open statements about the judiciary? Or, should this sanction be a lesson to all attorneys that they must not engage in such actions?

For the full Patriot News story, click here.

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