Archive for the tpoic: ‘Supreme Court’

Comment on Disciplinary Rules’ Proposed Amendments

Monday, December 28th, 2009

The Texas Supreme Court proposed amendments to the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct that are broad and extensive:

  • 5 newly defined terms that apply to the entire body of rules
  • 40 revised rules
  • 4 new rules — five if you count Rule 1.00, the new terminology rule
  • 11 rules that have not been amended except through the terminology changes added by Rule 1.00.

Not since January 1, 1990 have the Disciplinary Rules undergone this level of revision. Significantly, after the 1990 revisions to the Rules, the number of disciplinary sanctions against Texas lawyers experienced a substantial increase approximately a year after the rules changed. And, the number of sanctions did not return to normal even nine years later. (“Lady or the Tiger? Opening the Door to Lawyer Discipline Standards,” Bruce A. Campbell, Fla. Coastal L.J. Vol. 1, p.232-36 (1999). If there was one lesson to be learned from the last time the Rules were substantively amended, it is that it can take a decade or more for lawyers to conform their conduct to substantial changes in the Rules.

You may want to read my comments in Texas Lawyer on proposed changes to rules governing:

  • Informed Consent
  • Affiliated Lawyers and Entities
  • Prospective Clients

Will Texas Lawyers Be Required To Disclose Whether They Carry Professional Liability Insurance?

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

Are you aware of the possible impact that could result if you are required to disclose to clients whether you carry professional liability insurance?

Judging by the low attendance at the State Bar of Texas public hearings on the topic, most attorneys are unaware or indifferent: Dallas (50+), El Paso (6), Houston (35), Harlingen (4), Lubbock (9), and San Antonio (60).

The State Bar Board will use this input to assist it in making a recommendation to the Supreme Court. (The Board will vote on this issue at its Jan. 29, 2010, meeting.)

Read Bruce A. Campbell’s article “It’s Time to Speak Up: Don’t Miss Out on Debate Over Professional Liability Insurance” in Texas Lawyer.

Free Speech for Lawyers?

Friday, August 1st, 2008

The court jester often spoke frankly on controversial issues. Photo © Bruce A. Campbell
The Florida Supreme Court appears to be ready to dive into the question of what can a lawyer say about a judge and still avoid being disciplined. A Florida attorney is facing discipline for writing disparaging comments about a Circuit Court Judge on a legal blog. In the blog, the attorney referred to the Judge as an “evil, unfair witch,” “unfit for her position,” and referred to her as “seemingly mentally ill.” The attorney is accused of violating Florida bar rules forbidding attorneys from impugning the qualifications of a judge and making statements about the judge known to be false or in reckless disregard for the truth. Interestingly, the lawyer apparently had cut a deal with the Florida Bar requiring a guilty plea in exchange for a public reprimand, but this deal may have been scuttled by the requests for briefing by the Florida Supreme Court. The Court has directed the attorney, as well as the Florida State Bar, to file briefs on whether the attorney’s comments are protected speech under the First Amendment. The attorney, along with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, is now defending his comments as permissible hyperbole or figurative speech. It will be interesting to see how the Florida Supreme Court treats the attorney’s comments.

For an expanded discussion of the interaction between the disciplinary rules and the First Amendment, read “What can you say about a judge without losing your law license?” published in the August 4, 2008 edition of the Texas Lawyer.

(Post publication note) This article was picked up by several sites, including:
American Lawyer
The Boston Globe []
Connecticut Bar Association
Corporate Legal Times Magazine
The Counselor, Boston Law College
Hawaii State Bar Association
The Indiana Law Blog
Kansas City Business Journal
Law Net (Greek version)
Law Roundtable
Legal News
Practice Source
The New York Sun
et al. (Google Search for “A Primer on What Lawyers Can Say About Judges”)