USSC rejects ‘Pit-Bull’ lawyers’ ad appeal

first_img USSC rejects ‘Pit-Bull’ lawyers’ ad appeal April 15, 2006 Regular News USSC rejects ‘Pit-Bull’ lawyers’ ad appealcenter_img The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal from two Florida lawyers who were ordered disciplined by the Florida Supreme Court for their ads which included a drawing of a pit bull and a 1-800 PIT-BULL phone number.Marc Chandler said the court’s March 27 action ends the appeals for him and partner John Pape.“We’re disappointed that the United State Supreme Court declined to take the case. While we respect the Florida Supreme Court, we don’t think its decision comports with applicable U.S. Supreme Court precedent,” Chandler said. “We have complied and intend to continue complying with the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling.”That means the pair will receive a public reprimand from the Bar Board of Governors, attend an advertising workshop, and change their firm ad. That included a drawing of a pit bull head in a spike collar in place of the ampersand in the firm name and the PIT-BULL phone number.The ad gained prominence a couple years ago when it was cited as an example of bad advertising by state lawmakers who were considering a state law to regulate lawyer ads. That bill passed the House but died in the Senate, and the effort was not revived in succeeding sessions.The referee who heard the grievance case agreed with Chandler and Pape that their advertisement did not violate Bar rules, and that the use of the pit bull could be seen as promoting loyalty and tenaciousness. But the Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, overturned the referee, and ordered the discipline.The court’s decision, in part, said the public perception of pit bulls was viciousness and unprovoked attacks and that was an improper image to send about lawyers.Chandler praised the efforts of Richard Smolla, dean of the University of Richmond School of Law, who took their appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.In his brief to the court, Smolla said that while many lawyers might not want to associate themselves with pit bulls, “under our First Amendment principles we assign the management of good taste to the forces of the marketplace, not the forces of government.”Chandler said, with the case over, he and Pape plan to continue in their practice, which focuses on representing injured motorcyclists, and where they have never had a Bar complaint filed by a client.“We’re going to continue practicing law; we’re going to represent our clients as best we possibly can, and that’s something we’ve attempted to do since we started practicing together,” he said.last_img

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