Wednesday, September 17, 2003

The Fine Line Between Slander and Free Speech

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals rules that a law school graduate can sue the Michigan State Bar for denying him membership because of some inflammatory accusations he made to a judge several years ago.

"They didn't like the fact that he had made harsh remarks about a judge," said Robert Horvath, Dubuc's lawyer. "They wanted him to say 'Gee, I made a mistake.' But in his view he thought he was justified."

[Dennis] Dubuc, 55, had initially sued both the Bar and licensing board, as well as the heads of the groups, in federal district court claiming his First Amendment rights were violated.

The case was dismissed on immunity grounds, but the appellate court ruled that Dubuc could still sue the chief officials of the organizations, but not the groups themselves.

Horvath, a solo practitioner in Troy, Mich., called this is a classic First Amendment case. "Should he have restrained his tongue more? Yeah. It wasn't the prudent thing to do. He basically dynamited himself," Horvath said. "When you attack a judge and you don't win on that allegation, you're stuck."

If you read the entire story, you'll discover that Dubuc seems to be somewhat of a, well, a-hole. I know, I know -- typical lawyer traits, blah, blah, blah.

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