As you know I have been amazingly busy with the ARDC complaint filed against me and all the cases I have where jurisdiction has been lacking but I represent YOU on this blog and via this blog–the person without any money or any hope, or I’m just helping you with free legal advice–cleaning up the mess and corruption we all know is rampant in Cook County Circuit court (well, except for the ARDC in their ivory towers).
On Thursday, the Virginia State Bar Assn just gave us a HUGE, huge gift for this blog, in the decision of Horace Hunter v. Virginia Bar. I don’t have the cite, but you can google it–it’s everywhere and I’m attaching it here:
In the above case, Mr. Horace Hunter was charged with atty rules violations for 1) not providing a sufficient disclaimer on his blog (he only had one on the main blog page and the VBS wanted one of those “results not typical” on EVERY post–incredible burden if you’re a blogger, plus who wants to read THAT more than once per decade; and 2) he published the names of clients (horrors) on cases where he won. The VBS argued this is was “betraying client confidentiality” (as if THAT’s possible on the internet today–get rid of Google search first before you say that one, plus all social media–someone will be yacking about what you did yesterday while drunk or high and can’t recall).
Summary: the Virginia Supreme Court held that 1) relating those names on a blog is NOT confidential; and 2) they adopted the trial court’s finding that publishing a disclaimed requested by the Virginia State Bar ONCE on the blog is enough.
You go, Virginia Supreme Court.
So what does all this do to the ARDC’s position?
To get to the nitty gritty details, if you read the Horace Hunger case (I gotta contact this guy), they said that his speech was commercial and not political. That’s an important difference in the world of SCOTUS and free speech. Commercial speech MAY be regulated as long as you can show 1) the state has a compelling interest to regulate the speech (the Virginia Supremes found that VBS MAY regulate atty blogs consisting of commercial speech); and 2) there is some compelling problem to be solved by doing so; and 3) the problem is solved in the least restrictive manner.
To begin with, Horace Hunter’s blog could easily be found to be commercial speech. 1) it was on his firm website–not an independent web site; 2) it touted 99% of the time the “amazing results” of the case by his firm; 3) on the blog website it provided contact information for his firm under “contact us”; 4) the cases he was bragging about were only ones done by his firm; 5) only he or his firm could post; 6) there were no public comments–moderated or otherwise; 7) it was clear the blog was 95% used as a way to get clients in an area his firm specialized in; 8) it was part of his advertising and means for profit.
You will note on the “www.marygsykes.com” website, 1) I have dedicated this website to eliminating corruption in the circuit court; 2) I do NOT list or advertise anywhere on my posts to contact me or my firm for “probate work” (Yikes–I’m scared even to think about it); 3) on my regular website, I have my firm phone number, fax number, emails of myself and my staff–even cell phone number, but you won’t find it here and I’m not mentioning it again; 4) I NEVER have advertised I specialize or WILL EVEN DO PROBATE (tho, I will do it, IF I am told no other lawyer will take their case they have been to at least a dozen and it is meritorious and they have no money–but shouldn’t ALL lawyers do this?); 5) the vast majority of the time, even if there is a problem in probate, for free or a donation, I can advise people on HOW TO GET THE GAL’S or other attys in court TO DO THEIR JOB. When people contact me, most of the time there’s just a lawyer or two or three that’s not doing their job and I’m just an unseen second opinion, once the attys already on the case-generally the GAL sees the client is savvy and just asking them to do the job they were hired to do, they stop getting away with a crap job and the problems are solved; 6) the posts on my blog come from everywhere and everyone–no one is excluded, I only ask that your stuff be readable and verifiable by sending me court documents which I will post; 7) I allow for and 99% post comments–everyone’s opinion and story is important; 8) my work on this blog is billed (as it should be) to “cost of corruption” published here. At the end of the year when the ARDC asks for my “pro bono” hours, that’s what I put down.
THIS BLOG IS PRO BONO AND INDEPENDENT. I do not solicit clients here or want probate work.
I honest can’t say how I would get profitable work from my blog. It is mostly a drain on me and I do it for you, the reader and for all of us that want honest, decent, lawyers, courts and judges. It is especially important in probate that everyone does an honest, decent job–despite the fact there may be all sorts of money and profiteering to grab. By letting the public know what is going on, hopefully we can encourage everyone to be honest, reasonable, stop the isolation of grandma, stop declaring her incompetent without jurisdiction, stop the nonsense in probate court.
I simply don’t understand how the likes of Miriam Solo, Adam Stern and Cynthia Farenga can keep children from their parents or force them to pay $160 per hour from some wired in agency to isolate grandma. It should be a nationwide scandal and disgrace.
Getting back to Horace Hunter, favorite case quotes:
In this appeal of right by an attorney from a Virginia State Bar (“VSB”) disciplinary proceeding before a three judge panel appointed pursuant to Code § 54.1-3935, we consider whether an attorney’s blog posts are commercial speech, whether an attorney may discuss public information related to a client without the client’s consent, and whether the panel ordered the attorney to post a disclaimer that is insufficient under Rule 7.2(a)(3) of the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct…….
In response to these allegations, Hunter contends that speech concerning the judicial system is “quintessentially ‘political speech’” which is within the marketplace of ideas…..
The VSB responds that Hunter’s blog posts are inherently misleading commercial speech.
“Whether the inherent character of a statement places it beyond the protection of the First Amendment is a question of law over which . . . this Court . . . exercise[s] de novo review.” Peel v. Atty. Registration & Disciplinary Comm’n, 496 U.S. 91, 108 (1990). An appellate Court must independently examine the entire record in First Amendment cases to ensure that “ ‘a forbidden intrusion on the field of free expression’ ” has not occurred…..
Simply because the speech is an advertisement, references a specific product, or is economically motivated does not necessarily mean that it is commercial speech. Bolger v. Youngs Drug Products Corp., 463 U.S. 60, 67 (1983). “The combination of all these characteristics, however, provides strong support for the . . . conclusion that [some blog posts] are properly characterized as commercial speech” even though they also discuss issues important to the public. Id. at 67-68 (emphasis in original).
However, all commercial speech is necessarily advertising. See Webster’s Third New International Dictionary 31 (1993) (defining “advertisement” as “a calling attention to or making known[;]an informing or notifying[;] a calling to public attention[;] a statement calling attention to something[;] a public notice; esp[ecially] a paid notice or
announcement published in some public print (as a newspaper, periodical, poster, or handbill) or broadcast over radio or television”). Indeed, the Supreme Court of the United States has said that “[t]he diverse motives, means, and messages of advertising may make speech ‘commercial’ in widely varying degrees.”…….
Here, Hunter’s blog posts, while containing some political commentary, are commercial speech. Hunter has admitted that his motivation for the blog is at least in part economic. The posts are an advertisement in that they predominately describe cases where he has received a favorable result for his client. He unquestionably references a specific product, i.e., his lawyering skills as twenty-two of his twenty-five case related posts describe cases that he has successfully handled. Indeed, in nineteen of these posts, he specifically named his law firm in addition to naming himself as counsel.
Moreover, the blog is on his law firm’s commercial website rather than an independent site dedicated to the blog…….
observing that “[i]n contrast to the interaction possible in some other forms of web-published information, blog readers are most frequently permitted to leave comments and create threads of discussion”). Instead, in furtherance of his commercial pursuit, Hunter invites the reader to “contact us” the same way one seeking legal representation would contact the firm through the website.
When considered as a whole, the economically motivated blog overtly proposes a commercial transaction that is an advertisement of a specific product.
Having determined that Hunter’s blog posts discussing his cases are commercial speech,
we must determine whether the expression is protected by the First Amendment. For commercial speech to come within that provision, it at least must concern lawful activity and not be misleading. Next, we ask whether the asserted governmental interest is substantial. If both inquiries yield positive answers, we must determine whether the regulation directly advances the governmental interest asserted, and whether it is not more extensive than is necessary to serve that interest.
While the States may place an absolute prohibition on inherently misleading advertising, “the States may not place an absolute prohibition on certain types of potentially misleading information, . . . if the information also may be presented in a way that is not deceptive.”
Because the VSB’s governmental interest is substantial, we must now determine “whether the regulation directly advances the governmental interest asserted.”
Finally, we must determine whether the VSB’s regulations are no more restrictive than necessary. Central Hudson, 447 U.S. at 566. The Supreme Court of the United States has approved the use of disclaimers or explanations.
Thus, we are called upon to answer whether the state may prohibit an attorney from discussing information about a client or former client that
is not protected by attorney-client privilege without express consent from that client. We agree with Hunter that it may not.
a criminal trial under our system of justice.” Richmond Newspapers, Inc. v. Virginia, 448 U.S. 555, 573 (1980).
[a] trial is a public event. What transpires in the court room is public property. If a transcript of the court proceedings had been published, we suppose none would claim that the judge could punish the publisher for contempt. And we can see no difference though the conduct of the attorneys, of the jury or even of the judge himself, may have reflected on the court. Those who see and hear what transpired can report it with impunity. There is no special perquisite of the judiciary which enables it, as distinguished from other institutions of democratic government, to suppress, edit, or censor events which transpire in proceedings before it.
Craig v. Harney, 331 U.S. 367, 374 (1947).
…. a lawyer is no more prohibited than any other citizen from reporting what transpired in the courtroom….
This means that Hunter’s disclaimers “shall be in bold type face and uppercase letters in a font size that is at least as large as the largest text used to advertise the specific or cumulative case results and in the same color and against the same colored background as the text used to advertise the specific or cumulative case results.” Rule 7.2(a)(3). The circuit court, however, imposed the following disclaimer to be posted once: “Case results depend upon a variety of factors unique to each case. Case results do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any future case.”
So my work on this blog is “content speech” or speech which is not regulated and should be afforded the highest protection in all state courts, federal courts and tribunals throughout the nation.
Based upon this decision, both atty Ken Ditkowsky AND myself have filed amendments to our Petitions to the Supreme Court of Illinois AND have filed Motions to Reconsider our Motions to Dimiss!
Clearly all of Ken’s emails regarding the following cases: Bedin, Taylor, Gore, Sykes, Wyman are NOT commercial speech! All they do is call for an investigation by the authorities. Further, each and everyone of our emails, faxes, letters calling for an investigation, letting me blog freely in court, requests to let me blog freely in court, be a court watcher–is protected speech of the highest levels for which the government AND the ARDC has absolutely no interest in regulating.
I am not using this website to advertise for my “real” practice of patents, trademarks and copyrights. I use this website SO THAT WHEN I GO TO COURT THERE WILL BE NO CORRUPTION PRESENT AND JUSTICE WILL BE DONE.
None of the cases that I write about and my readers write about are to brag for advertising for me. Let me make this clear to the ARDC. I have never said I want to be in probate court, I have never advertised to go there. I GO THERE AS A LAST RESORT, GENERALLY WITH NO PAYMENT OF MONEY, AND I DO JUSTICE WHEN AT LEAST 20 OTHER LAWYERS REFUSE TO GO THERE DUE TO THE CORRUPTION, RAILROADING, LACK OF FOLLOWING BASIC COURT RULES.
When asked by the National Law Journal Reporter if I had “plans to take this blog down”, I pretty much screamed at her THERE’S NO WAY I WILL TAKE THIS BLOG DOWN WHILE THERE IS CORRUPTION IN THE COURTS–WHY SHOULD I?
This blog is about injustices and corruption. It is NOT profitable, it is a time waster and money drainer for me and my firm and my staff.
I like writing patents and doing patentability searches, I really do. You can ask my staff. I love it and obsess over it. BUT I will NOT stand idly by and let horrendous crimes of loss of human rights, civil rights, loss of consortium with beloved friends and family members by nefarious tied in guardians that get “watchers” at $150 per hour or more to go on WITHOUT MAKING A STINK.
That’s what this blog is all about MAKING A STINK FOR GRANDMA until justice is done.
This blog is completely separate from what I do as a patent attorney. IT DESERVES THE HIGHEST LEVEL OF PROTECTION BY ALL COURTS AND TRIBUNALS THROUGHOUT THE US–INCLUDING THE AUGUST ARDC ATTORNEYS–ATTY LARKIN, ATTY HASPEL AND ATTY OPRYSZEK.
And I will not rest until the corruption is gone and the ARDC STARTS TO ADMIRE AND RESPECT THE FIRST SPEECH RIGHTS OF LAWYERS IN THE US–myself and Ken included.
We have to promote lawyers speaking out against corruption, on blogs, in the news and in public. That speech cannot and must not be chilled even if the ARDC buys a 1000 refrigerators for it. (I gotta start doing political cartoons too).
Take care my justice loving readers, as Shakespere said “even the worm can turn.”