Tag Archives: USA

USA: Gagging Attorneys: A Critical Look at the ABA “Anti-Discrimination” Rule

July 31, 2017


The new ABA Model Rule 8.4(g) prohibits attorneys from engaging in “harmful,” “derogatory,” or “demeaning” speech in any activity “related to the practice of law,” including “bar association, business or social activities.”

Proponents of the rule have advanced several arguments in its favor and raised several defenses in answer to its critics. But these arguments and defenses are unconvincing because they’re based on factual misrepresentations or on mischaracterizations of the rule.

Proponents of the rule summarily dismiss the many claims that it is unconstitutional

Many legal authorities point out that the new rule is unconstitutional. Proponents of the rule simply ignore this ever-increasing chorus of constitutional criticism.

The Texas and South Carolina attorneys general – the only attorneys general to have thus far opined on the rule – have both issued official opinions that it would likely violate the free speech, free association, and free exercise rights of attorneys. Indeed, the South Carolina Supreme Court recently rejected the rule after the South Carolina attorney general issued his opinion against it.

The ABA’s own Standing Committee on Attorney Discipline, as well as the Professional Responsibility Committee of the ABA Business Law Section, warned the ABA that the new Rule may violate attorneys’ First Amendment speech rights.

And prominent legal scholars – such as UCLA constitutional law professor Eugene Volokh, Chapman University constitutional law and legal ethics professor Ronald Rotunda [By Subscription], and former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese, III – have all opined that the new rule is constitutionally infirm.


USA: Chief Justice Roberts says criticism won’t stop judges

July 29, 2017

US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, once dubbed “disgraceful” by President Donald Trump, said on Thursday that criticism from politicians won’t dissuade judges from doing their jobs.

In a question-and-answer session at the University of Melbourne’s law school, Roberts was asked about political criticism of the courts — a particularly relevant question for the justice, given that he was the target of a withering critique from Trump during the presidential campaign.

“We’re certainly not above criticism — it’s a free country,” Roberts replied. “It certainly doesn’t affect how we go about our job.”

In 2015, then-candidate Trump said in a speech to supporters that Roberts was “disgraceful” and a “disappointment” to conservatives, largely because the justice had voted to uphold key provisions of President Barack Obama’s 2010 health care law.

Roberts has not commented on Trump’s criticisms of him, or on the president’s disparaging remarks about other judges whose decisions have irked him. In February, Trump called US District Judge James Robart a “so-called judge” after Robart imposed a temporary halt on Trump’s executive order barring people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from coming to the United States.

Asked later to elaborate on the reasons behind the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Obama’s health care law, Roberts demurred, saying that the court’s written opinions are intended to speak for themselves.


Mexico/USA: Lawyer opposing U.S. resort developer in Baja Mexico jailed 62 days

July 20, 2017

Lawyer opposing U.S. resort developer in Baja Mexico jailed 62 days

Lawyer John Moreno Rutowski’s incarceration 62 days ago spurred outcry against Black Creek Group, an American development company that plans to convert beaches, mangroves, and dunes in a tranquil fishing town near the popular destination Todos Santos on the Mexican Pacific into two hotels and 4,000+ housing units based upon the concept of ‘wellbeing.’

Every morning at dawn, the fishermen of Punta Lobos take their boats out to the high seas to find shrimp boats and give bread, cookies, and soft drinks to the crew members in exchange for shrimp heads to use as bait.

They do this out of necessity. Deep down, they surely would prefer not to have to depend on this. The boats usually arrive at the beaches of Todos Santos, in Baja California Sur, from the neighboring state of Sinaloa. The fishermen practice trawling — taking in tons of shrimp and young sole, a species that artisanal fishermen work with and protect.

The shrimp heads are for the fishermen, and the small sole go back into the sea dead. For decades, the members of the Punta Lobos Fishing Cooperative have seen tons of dead fish thrown overboard and have spoken out about it with anger as they take their afternoon breaks.

But nowadays, this is the least of their problems: in 2013, the Mexican government approved the construction of a hotel on Punta Lobos Beach and the lawyer who defended the members of the cooperative, John Moreno Rutowski, has been incarcerated in the height of a full legal battle against the company developing the project.





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UK/USA: New York Bar chief writes to Theresa May over ‘climate of intimidation’ for NI lawyers

July 14, 2017

Irish Legal News - Legal News, Events & Jobs across Ireland

The New York Bar has expressed its concern over the “climate of intimidation” that lawyers in Northern Ireland face.

The Bar represents 24,000 attorneys as well as judges, government officials and legal academics in New York City.

John Kiernan, president of the Bar, has written to British Prime Minister Theresa May and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland James Brokenshire to ask that the UK government “refrain from the use of inflammatory rhetoric” in discussions over ongoing cases.

Plans to prosecute former British soldiers over alleged offences committed during the Troubles has causes a backlash in Britain.

Mr Kiernan said in his letter to Mrs May: “We urge you and other government officials to refrain from the use of inflammatory rhetoric against lawyers involved in the reconciliation process and to identify and implement steps to support lawyers working on reconciliation and legacy issues, and to publicly commit to safeguarding lawyers who have been harassed or threatened as a result of performing their professional duties.”

He added that the NYC Bar was “particularly troubled by reports that lawyers in Northern Ireland once again are facing threats, harassment, and media attacks while engaging in their professional responsibilities related to addressing the legacy of the past”.




USA: Disciplining Lawyers for Harassment and Discrimination: A Time for Change

July 11, 2017


The American Bar Association (ABA) has proposed a model rule to discipline lawyers who in the practice of law harass or discriminate, by speech or conduct, on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or socioeconomic status. This proposed rule constitutes Rule 8.4(g) of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct (the Rule). Since each state drafts its own rules of professional conduct for lawyers, each state is free to adopt with or without amendments, or not to adopt any proposed rule.

This commentary urges state legislatures, state bars, and state supreme courts to seriously consider the adoption of the Rule and reject the misguiding assertions that the proposed rule violates the lawyers’ First Amendment rights of free speech, free exercise of religion, and freedom of association. The Nevada Supreme Court has scheduled a public hearing on July 17, 2017 to determine whether Nevada should adopt the Rule.

Rule’s Rationale

As a matter of policy, the Rule assures that the legal profession functions for all participants, including vulnerable groups, such as racial and sexual minorities and persons with disabilities. Inclusion and accountability, rather than exclusion and immunity, are the core values the Rule seeks to protect.

The Rule democratizes access to all persons involved in the legal profession to play their assigned roles without fear of harassment and discrimination. No lawyer –partner or associate, renowned or unknown — has any constitutional or statutory right in the practice of law to harass clients, witnesses, judges, court officials, support staff at the law firm, or colleagues on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, or any other unlawful classification. Nor does a lawyer have any constitutional or statutory right to engage in unlawful discrimination in the employment of new lawyers and staff.






China/USA: Statement of New York City Bar Association Marking “709 Crackdown” on Chinese Human Rights Defenders

July 8, 2017

New York City Bar

Sunday, July 9, 2017 marks the first-ever international China Human Rights Lawyers Day and the second anniversary of the beginning of President Xi Jinping’s infamous “709 Crackdown,” a period of intimidation, arrest, adetention, and enforced disappearance of an unprecedented number of Chinese lawyers, lawyers’ family members, support staff, and human rights and legal activists.[1] The Association has closely monitored relevant developments in China, and previously issued a call to release lawyers caught up in the early throes of the “709 Crackdown”.[2] In all, the “709 Crackdown” ensnared more than 320 human rights lawyers and activists throughout China, and continues to this day – a methodical, systematic campaign by the Chinese state to control and silence lawyers and others who advocate for politically-sensitive clients and causes.[3]

In what amounts to nothing less than a “war on law” that is unprecedented in its scale and severity, Chinese human rights lawyers and activists have been summoned for questioning, kidnapped by secret police, detained incommunicado in “black jails” and other prisons, humiliated, and subjected to marathon interrogation sessions and other forms of sadistic psychological and physical torture, including sleep deprivation, forced medication (often with grave consequences for mental and physical health), brutal beatings, electric shocks, prolonged submersion in water, death threats, and months of solitary confinement.[4]

Many of these human rights lawyers and activists have been held for months (even years) without being charged and with no access to defense counsel.











The China Human Rights Lawyers Group: Statement Upon the 2nd Anniversary of the 709 Incident

https://www.voachinese.com/a/voaweishi-20170706-io-709-lawyer-crackdown/3930936.html (CHINESE)

http://hk.epochtimes.com/news/2017-07-09/34723243 (CHINESE)

http://www.metroradio.com.hk/news/live.aspx?NewsID=20170709152327 (CHINESE)

http://trad.cn.rfi.fr/%E4%B8%AD%E5%9C%8B/20170709-709%E5%A4%A7%E6%8A%93%E6%8D%95%E5%85%A9%E5%91%A8%E5%B9%B4-%E7%BE%88%E6%8A%BC5%E4%BA%BA%E5%AE%B6%E5%B1%AC%E7%BA%8C%E8%BF%BD%E7%95%B6%E5%B1%80%E6%94%BE%E4%BA%BA-%E6%B8%AF%E4%BA%BA%E9%BB%98%E7%AB%99%E6%8A%97%E8%AD%B0 (CHINESE)

https://www.hk01.com/%E6%B8%AF%E8%81%9E/103574/-709%E4%BA%8B%E4%BB%B6%E5%85%A9%E5%91%A8%E5%B9%B4-%E8%A2%AB%E6%8D%95%E5%BE%8B%E5%B8%AB%E4%BB%8D%E6%9C%AA%E7%8D%B2%E8%87%AA%E7%94%B1-%E9%97%9C%E6%B3%A8%E7%B5%84%E9%BB%98%E7%AB%99%E8%81%B2%E6%8F%B4 (CHINESE)

https://money.udn.com/money/story/5641/2573161 (CHINESE)

http://hkm.appledaily.com/detail.php?guid=56933852&category_guid=6996647&category=instant&issue=20170709 (CHINESE)

https://thestandnews.com/politics/709%E5%A4%A7%E6%8A%93%E6%8D%95%E5%85%A9%E5%91%A8%E5%B9%B4-%E5%BE%8B%E5%B8%AB%E8%AD%B0%E5%93%A1%E7%B5%82%E9%99%A2%E5%A4%96%E9%BB%98%E7%AB%99/ (CHINESE)

http://www.cna.com.tw/news/aipl/201707090169-1.aspx (CHINESE)

http://www.appledaily.com.tw/realtimenews/article/new/20170709/1157507/ (CHINESE)

https://newtalk.tw/news/view/2017-07-09/91746 (CHINESE)

http://www.rfi.fr/emission/20170709-chine-deux-femmes-avocats-emprisonnes-racontent-leur-quotidien (FRANCAIS)

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“709全国律师大抓捕”迄今为止的两年间,维权律师王全璋从未见过家人。 #中国 应立即 #释放维权律师。 #FreeTheLawyers http://amn.st/61808UtKI

(国际特赦组织中文 Amnesty International Chinese Facebook)

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(China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group / 中國維權律師關注組 Facebook)


(美国之音香港@VOAHK )

USA: Christian Man Stands Behind Facebook Attack On Lawyer (Video)

June 26, 2017

Facebook Thumb Down

A self-identified Christian man, Lou Cobb, is standing by his Facebook attack against Monica Miller, a lawyer with the American Humanist Association (video below).

Miller successfully argued in court that a giant cross that sits in a public park in Pensacola, Florida, must be removed because it is on government property, noted NWFDailyNews.com.

In response, Cobb took to Facebook to post screenshots of Miller’s face and her work phone number with a caption: “Here is the idiot attorney that fought for removal of cross in Pensacola. Lets make her famous an run her out of town!”

The angry post about Miller was shared over 40,000 times as of June 26.

Cobb recently defended his social media attack on Miller during an interview with WEAR. “I never once insinuated hate or harm,” he stated.