July 2, 2010

Gableman defense finds little purchase in Illinois

The Administrator charged Hoffman with making statements regarding the qualifications and integrity of a circuit court judge and an administrative law judge with knowledge that the statements were false or with reckless disregard for their truth or falsity.
[Hoffman] asserts that he had the right under the First Amendment to make the statements at issue. We disagree. It has long been established that attorneys' First Amendment rights do not extend to false statements made with knowledge of their falsity or with reckless disregard for the truth. Moreover, attorneys "do not enjoy the same freedoms as a private citizen when it comes to professional discipline." [Hoffman's] assertion that he was expressing an informed opinion as to Judge Murphy is unpersuasive. [A]n attorney's offensive and abusive language is not protected by the First Amendment because "it is not in any proper sense communication of information or opinion safeguarded by the Constitution," and because "attorneys are bound by rules of conduct significantly more demanding than the requirements of law applicable to other members of society."
In re Melvin H. Hoffman, report and recommendation.

Too bad Hoffman wasn't running a campaign for "political office," then everything would have been A-okay (albeit "distasteful").

h/t Legal Profession Blog.

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