MARK POPE: Proposed Lawyer Rule Will Hinder Free Speech [OPINION]
Proposed lawyer rule will hinder free speech
Knowledge is power, and some powerful knowledge was revealed on “The Ross Report” here on NewsTalk 96.5 KPEL on Wednesday, Sept. 13. Lafayette attorney Patrick J. Briney, a practicing attorney for 41 years, revealed to the program’s listeners that the American Bar Association (ABA) is seriously considering adopting a rule to attorneys’ code of conduct which may subject them to discipline, or even disbarment, if an attorney is reported as having made an offensive comment to clients or colleagues. And the Louisiana Bar Association (LBA) is considering the same rule.
Many people are easily offended – even by civil, yet frank language. How then is an attorney to be fully empowered to defend a client if said attorney cannot speak the truth without fear of “offending” a fickle, overly-sensitive client.
Mr. Briney believes that attorneys who brazenly offend clients or colleagues should face disciplinary action from the LBA. Rules and by-laws of the LBA currently cover egregious comments which are truly offensive, dealing with race, religion, sexual orientation, etc. Practicing Louisiana attorneys are mandated to join the LBA; membership in the ABA is strictly optional for Louisiana attorneys.
Consider the following excerpts from a letter written by Mr. Briney to the LBA’s Professional Programs Ethics Counsel:
*I was educated to believe that the LBA and the ABA existed to support me and, if necessary, to provide a disciplinary process to protect my client if I failed to zealously and loyally represent him. Never did I imagine the Bar Associations existed to shape my religious, political, or social views or to tell me who I could and could not represent and on what issues.
*Our society is being torn apart by political correctness and gender identity politics. Everything is politicized to serve one agenda or another.
*I am even more fearful that the amendment [to an existing rule] is being promoted for political and social agendas which threaten the freedom and liberty of every lawyer in Louisiana, not to mention their ability to represent clients zealously and effectively without regard to race, creed, religion, sexual orientation, etc.
Sometimes we must fight back. Whether or not you are an attorney, this draconian, Orwellian issue must be opposed. Mr. Briney suggests contacting a practicing attorney, or attorneys, you may know here in the state. Members of the LBA will soon vote on the proposed rule change. Rule 8.4(h) is the proposed rule which will hinder attorneys’ ability to effectively represent their clients. Learn more about the rule by going to firstliberty.org.