Question & Answer
Do Lawyers Check Their First Amendment Rights at the Courtroom Door?
Recently, an Ohio judge ordered a lawyer removed from the courtroom for wearing a Black Lives Matter pin. Did this violate the lawyer's First Amendment rights?
Attorney Megan Zavieh, writing for The Lawyerist, noted that a lawyer's First Amendment rights compete with the judge's right to control decorum in the courtroom. And she noted a First Circuit Court of Appeals decision, holding that restrictions on free speech are reasonable when a lawyer injects private political viewpoints into the courtroom.
Zavieh said the First Circuit's decision squares with ethics rules and the overarching principle that the client's interest comes first.
"At the end of the day, whether the cause you support is a hot button political issue or a relatively innocuous one, your job as a lawyer is not to promote your own interests; it is to protect and advance the cause of your client," she wrote. "With that overarching theme in mind, it is not difficult to adhere to the rules of decorum."
What do you think?
By the Numbers
The number of hours that lawyers bill in an eight-hour work day, according to a Legal Trends Report by Clio CEO Jack Newton.
Clio is a cloud-based law practice management software company (and a State Bar of Wisconsin affinity partner). At the recent Clio Cloud Conference in Chicago, Newton said Clio’s 150,000 active daily users only bill about 28 percent of their available work hours (about 22 percent for solo attorneys).
Newton used the stats to show how technology can help lawyers be more efficient.
Source: ABA Journal
From the Archives
Judges' Football Team Loses, Juvenile Sentences Go Up
That was a headline from The Atlantic last month, just a few days after the underdog U.W. Badger Football team knocked off Louisiana State University (LSU) in the season opener at Lambeau Field.
The article discusses a study by two LSU economists who reviewed Louisiana juvenile court decisions handed down between 1996 and 2012. The study concludes that judges who attended LSU imposed harsher sentences in the week following an LSU football loss, if LSU was expected to win.
"When the team was ranked in the top 10 before the losing game, kids wound up behind bars for about two months longer, on average," according to The Atlantic’s Emily Deruy.
"When the team was not as highly ranked, it was a little more than a month. The [economists] found that the harsher sentences disproportionately affected black defendants."
"My friend saw a ghost eating off a plate at his house last night, and if you don’t believe it, here is the plate he says he saw the ghost eating from."
– Panci v. U.S., 256 F.2d 308, 312 (5th Cir. 1958). The judge compared the evidence presented by the man in this fictional story to explain how the government failed to prove a conspiracy.
Take a Left Please. The Other Left.
Last month, the U.S. Department of Transportation issued its Federal Automated Vehicle Policy in preparation for the advent of self-driving cars. President Barack Obama wrote an editorial in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette announcing the guidelines.
"Right now, too many people die on our roads – 35,200 last year alone – with 94 percent of those the result of human error or choice," Obama wrote. "Automated vehicles have the potential to save tens of thousands of lives each year. And right now, for too many senior citizens and Americans with disabilities, driving isn’t an option. Automated vehicles could change their lives."
On the Radar
Get Up to Speed on Technology – and Fast!
Starting Jan. 1, 2017, Wisconsin lawyers will be expected to know the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology as part of their duty to maintain competence to practice law. That’s because the Wisconsin Supreme Court recently amended Chapter 20, the Rules of Professional Conduct, to ensure attorneys stay current on technology in law practice. [See SCR 20:1.1 Maintaining Competence.]
Just in time for these changes, the 2016 Wisconsin Solo & Small Firm Conference – Oct. 20-22 at the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells – has a full track dedicated to technology. Check it out at wssfc.org.