Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Indiana Supreme Court decides case that can help define the limits of the state's authority to discipline lawyers for comments about judges

I have been following the debate about whether (or under what circumstances) should the state be allowed to discipline a lawyer for comments about judges or other lawyers.  For example, see here, here, and here.  Adding to this discussion, the Indiana Supreme Court recently decided a case that may be helpful for defining the limits of the state's authority to discipline for speech about judges or other lawyers.

The case is called Brewington v. State.  It involved a non-attorney's conviction for intimidating a judge.  The conviction was upheld but the court's discussion develops an interesting analysis based on the distinction between speech that may be a threat to someone's reputation (which is protected) and speech that actually expresses a threat of physical harm (which would not be).  For a discussion of the case go here.