LOUISIANA LAWYER’S “SOCIAL MEDIA BLITZ”: First Amendment Right or Misleading &Impermissible Attempt to Influence the Judiciary?

An attorney, representing a woman alleging sexual abuse by the father in a custody and visitation battle, allegedly waged a social media attack on two judges involved in the case based upon the attorney’s frustration with the lack of progress in the case. The attorney’s strategy may cost her the suspension of her license for a year and a day if the Louisiana Supreme Court adopts the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board’s Recommendation.

The Disciplinary Board’s Recommendation adopts the findings of fact of its Hearing Committee, which state that the attorney created an online petition that read, “Sign our petition telling the judges that there can be no justice … if the law and evidence is ignored…Ask yourself, what if these were your daughters? … Horrified? Call the judges and let them know.”

Additionally, the Committee found that the attorney created a website, which promoted the online petition and discussed sealed information about the cases, and also promoted the petition via twitter. One of her tweets read, “GIMME GIMME GIMME Evidence! Want some? I got it. Think u can convince a judge to look at it? Sign this petition.” The Hearing Committee also found that the attorney’s online petition contained false statements about the judges.

The Disciplinary Board Recommendation adopts the Hearing Committee’s finding of law in so far as the Committee found that the attorney violated the following Rules of Professional Conduct: Impartiality and Decorum of the Tribunal 3.5(a) and Misconduct 8.4(a)(c)(d).

The attorney asserts that her conduct is protected free speech and is quoted by the ABA as stating that she does not “believe the [suspension] recommendation does anything to protect the profession or make it more ‘honorable.’ To the contrary, it undermines it, and further ensures that ‘justice’ will be whatever judges say it is, regardless of the law, ethics, or all the facts and circumstances that would otherwise contradict them.”

Click here to read the full text of the Disciplinary Board’s Recommendation. Click here to read more.

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