Speak No Evil: Legal Ethics v. The First Amendment
38 Pages Posted: 21 Oct 2014
Date Written: 2009
Debates surrounding the role of judges in American governance have sparked poisonous hostilities. The extent that attorneys may enter into this debate is controversial. The First Amendment, ethical rules of professional responsibility, and considerations of professionalism dictate lawyers' rights and responsibilities as participants in this great debate.
This article explores the contours of attorneys' First Amendment rights. It discusses the various legal standards that are applied when attorneys' statements result in disciplinary actions. It then analyzes a series of pertinent decisions within a First Amendment framework, examines the efficacy of restricting critical attorney speech in light of the public's ignorance concerning governmental institutions and their functions, suggests practical ways to positively impact the public's perception of the judicial system, and concludes by summarize why the problem of public perception must be combated with more speech, not less speech.
Keywords: Role of judges, attorney First Amdendment rights, Rules of Professional Responsibility, attorney speech, professionalism
JEL Classification: K10, K40, K23
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation