Attorney Disciplined for Tweeting About a Disciplinary Hearing: Really?

On November 15, 2012, Sarah Peterson Herr, a research attorney for the Kansas Court of Appeals, wrote the following tweets while watching a disciplinary hearing (oh, the irony) for former Kansas Attorney General, Phil Kline:

  • “Holy balls, There are literally 15 cops here for the Phil Kline [sic] case today. Thus I actually wore my badge.”
  • “Why is Phil Klein [sic] smiling? There is nothing to smile about douchebag [sic].”
  • “I predict that he will be disbarred for a period of not less than 7 years.”
  • “It’s over…sorry. I did like how the district court judges didn’t speak the entire time. Thanks for kicking out the SC Phil [sic]! Good call!”

Really? These tweets are the perfect example of what not to do when in a position of trust as a court employee or practicing attorney. The statements reflect poorly not only on the tweeting lawyer, but also on the Judicial Center, the appellate process, and the administration of justice.

And in a disciplinary action against Herr held on January 13, 2014, a three-judge panel so stated. Finding that Herr violated KRPC 8.4, the court asserted, “[Herr] misrepresented the law and facts in her prediction of disbarment for seven years;” “[Her tweets] showed a general bias against Mr. Kline in the Judicial Center;” and “the overall tone of her comments revealed a disrespect for a litigant before the appellate courts as well as a disrespect for the Supreme Court Panel hearing the case.” Taking into account several mitigating factors, the court gave Herr an informal admonition and the matter is now closed.

To read the court’s opinion in full, click here.

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