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

March 27, 2006

Supreme Court rejects PIT-BULL appeal

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 1:36 pm

As we feared would happen, the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari today ,

in the case of Pape, John R. et al v. Florida Bar, (#05-1046, 547 U.S. ___,

March 27, 2006), ending the fight of the St. Lauderdale law firm Pape & Chandler

to use the head of a Pit-Bull in its logo, along with the phone number 1-800-

PIT-BULL, in its marketing.  The firm specializes in motorcycle accident cases. 

(see Reuters, “Court rejects lawyers’ appeal over pit bull ads,” Mar 27, 2006)




We‘ve been covering this case since May 2004. You can find our discussion

here of the opinion of the Florida Supreme Court.  The Court held:

“These devices, which invoke the breed of dog known as the pit bull,

demean all lawyers and thereby harm both the legal profession and

the public’s trust and confidence in our system of justice.”

On March 19, we posted the new pit-bull-less masthead of Pape & Chandler —

the drawing had served as P&C’s ampersand.  We asked whether lawyers now 

feel more dignified and the public has more respect for the profession and the

justice system.  


The highly persuasive legal, practical and policy arguments of John Pape and Marc

Chandler, which had been accepted by the Bar referee and presented to the High

Court by Rodney A. Smolla (Univ. Richmond Law Dean), will not be heard. That’s

despite our very modest efforts, along with Prof. McGowan at Legal Ethics Forum,

and postings by Salon‘s Robert Crook, Carolyn Elefant at MyShingle, Mary Whisner

at Trial Ad Notes asks, and many others — plus the recent advocacy of James J.

Kilpatrick, and numerous editorials (including the St. Petersburg Times). 



“P&C”  Click here to see one of P&C’s offending pit bull ads.


The question we asked when we reported that Dean Smolla would be seeking

certiorari will not be answered for the time being:

Would the Court conclude that pious notions of “dignity” only make

the legal profession look silly and are inadequate reasons for limiting

commercial speech and First Amendment rights of lawyers and


I’m afraid the professional Dignity Police have too many allies on the Supreme

Court bench — or maybe, consumers and the First Amendment have too few.  

Treating the public like fools and acting pompously self-important (and above

mere commerce) is not the way to win respect for the legal profession.


“tinyredcheck” As we have been reporting the past two years (see

here and here, for example), in the name of dignity and

consumer protection, the organized bar is trying to make

it harder and harder to advertise legal services.  Letting the

Pape & Chandler decision stand will surely encourage more

of this shameful activity.  Those of us who care about the 1st

Amendment and consumer choice need to speak up and act,

before it is too late.  (E.g., Central New York Business Journal,

“State Bar Association tackles attorney advertising practices,”

March 18, 2006; NYSBA Press Release, State Bar Association

Calls for Stricter Lawyer Advertising Rules in New York, Feb. 1,



was just posted, discussing a thoughtful article by South Dakota law professor Jonathan

Van Patten, “Lawyer Advertising and Professional Ethics, from Perspectives on the

Professions, Vol. 19, No. 2, Spring 2000.               


update (11 PM, March 27): On a related matter, see “dignity/schmignity: wordless

italian with Nino Scalia.”                                               


lightning flash–
only the dog’s face
is innocent


       translated by David G. Lanoue





country graveyard

a dog burying

a bone





nobody on the street

stray dog stops to bite

its wagging tail





At the edge of the precipice      I become logical




Spring morning    gravedigger whistling




                                                Georgetown U.’s mascot Jack  “GUJACKMUGG” 



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