f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

October 19, 2005

NJ discipline gag rule held unconstitutional

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 10:50 pm

Earlier today, the Supreme Court of New Jersey reversed the “gag” rule

imposed on those who file ethics complaints against lawyers, declaring it

unconstitutional.  The rule had threatened individuals with criminal contempt,

for disclosing that they had filed a grievance against a lawyer unless and until

a formal complaint is filed by bar counsel.  R.M. vs. the Supreme Court of New

Jersey (A-89-04) (see HALT Newsletter, Oct. 19, 2005; our prior post, “Omerta

in New Jersey”)


newspaperS  In its opinion (per Justice Zazzali), the Court stated:

“[T]he public is entitled to this information, entitled to know of charges
against attorneys, entitled to know who is the subject of those charges,
and, most of all, entitled to know how the system is working. It is their
system, not ours, not the attorneys’; it is their system just as is the
rest of the justice system.’”

As HALT reported, “Opponents of victims’ right to free speech argued that New 
Jersey’s “gag” rule was necessary to maintain the reputation of individual lawyers
and the legal profession. The court responded:

“Shielding dismissed grievances behind a permanent wall of silence does
less to ‘enhance respect’ for the legal profession and the ethics process
than it does to ‘engender resentment, suspicion, and contempt.’”

This echoes what f/k/a stated back in May:

To the N.J. Court and Bar: “Please give up the decoder and pinky

rings.  Secrecy breeds contempt, not respect.  No More Omerta.”


p.s. The same goes for Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Montana,

Nebraska, Nevada, South Dakota and Washington, which have 

similar gag rules — and the 27 state grievance committees that

strongly advise or request consumers to keep their grievances



The Court says the new rule will apply to all pending grievances, but not to completed

matters.  Over objections by three of the seven justices, the majority chose not to

remand the case to the Professional Responsibility Rules Committee to review whether

the removal of confidentiality should be accompanied by a lifting of the current absolute

immunity for grievants.




                                                                                                        need a gag muzzle?




what’s the rush?

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 6:23 pm

While I’ve been goofing off today, Yu Chang

has been down the road at Union College

doing his professor (electrical engineering)

shtick.  It’s a good thing he left a bagful of

haiku for this aging slacker to share with you:



vivid dreams

the din of a garbage truck

drives you away





turning over

a dead leaf

an earthworm twitches




trashman small




Flamenco dancer

the old planks








giving color

to a dry reed





Yu Chang 



  • by dagosan:                                               

my “funeral suit”

too snug —

someday, it’ll be baggy

                           [Oct. 19, 2005]

bully2 potluck

tiny check  As Prof. B notes today, now it’s Bork doing the Borking

skewering Harriet Miers.   Meanwhile, Prof. Ann Althouse takes

the Democrats to task for going soft on Miers, saying they are

showing their disrespect for the judiciary — as Pres. Bush. has

done — by giving Miers a pass.  I still don’t understand the push

for a rush to judgment.  


tiny check  Is Evan being too sensitive?  Ted too judgmental?  Evan

Schaeffer wrote this morning at Legal Underground about Ted

Frank’s Point of Law piece on Vioxx forum shopping in Illinois.

Evan is not happy about the “subtle tone of moral condemnation.”

I invite our readers to check out both pieces and let us all know

whether you think Evan is being too sensitive.  Here’s the Comment

that I left at Evan’s weblog:

Evan, When I originally read Ted’s post, I thought he was

complaining about the way the system works (what it

allows) much more than about the lawyers. After reading

your post and then re-reading Ted’s I still feel that way.


. . There really is a fine line to walk, and you’re right that

it is particularly hard to do so in the context of a weblog,

where staying short and punchy and opinionated is

considered a virtue. In the context of an adversarial legal

system, I think a thick skin is important — especially when

having a thin skin makes it look like you might be trying to

win points by attacking the other person rather than addressing

the policy issues. 


It’s a tightrope shaped like a vicious circle.  (update: here is

Ted’s admittedly “wordy” response to Evan.)


                                                                                                      tightrope flip



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