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May 10, 2004

Shameless Public Defender Disbarred

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 11:49 pm

jailbird neg  We try not to be too preachy these days, but the conduct of Grant County, WA, public defender Thomas J. Earl is simply shameful.  He was disbarred last week by the Washington State Supreme Court for, among other things, soliciting thousands of dollars each from indigent defendants for work already paid for by the County.  (See NewsWire, Private Billing Public Defender, 05-11-04)


As the Seattle Times reported on Saturday:

“Earl defended thousands of accused felons in 18 years of public-defense work and previously handled or farmed out all court-appointed work in Grant County Superior Court under a $500,000-a-year contract.  . . .

“By carrying a crushing caseload that eclipsed limits recommended by bar groups, Earl maximized his income while leaving little time for each client. Over the years, his income for public-defense work climbed from $40,000 to $80,000 to six figures. In 2002, he retained about $255,000 after paying other public defenders, The Seattle Times found. “

Earl handled over 400 felony cases in 2003.  The state bar guidelines advise a limit of 150 felonies per year.

  • If it took a Seattle Times expose’ to get disciplinary action started, the Washington Bar should be ashamed, too.

Wholely Daze of Blogligation

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 9:58 pm

The still-ailing Glenn Reynolds is as astute as ever, and I want to memorialize his Instapundit post tonight (10 May 2004) as a reminder to myself and many others who sometimes feel caught on the weblogging treadmill — or feel tempted to bend priorities in order to do Just One More post.


Glenn says: 

I took time off — and stayed pretty light in blogging even today — because James Lileks’ remark about being a “public utility” hit a little close to home. In truth, I’ve been feeling a bit like that for a while. It’s nobody’s fault — if you pass out the free ice cream (another Lileks phrase) regularly, people will tend to line up for it in advance, and even to rattle their spoons against their bowls a bit when it doesn’t appear as scheduled. Nonetheless, it starts to feel like work when that happens. As Tom Sawyer discovered, work consists of whatever a body feels obliged to do.

fence painter   I’m trying to treat InstaPundit less like work. That may mean less blogging, or not (I notice that here and elsewhere, forecasts of lighter blogging often turn out to be inaccurate), but I started this because it was fun, and I want to keep it that way, not succumb to blog fatigue, as even Lileks himself notes that blogging can start to feel like a “blogligation,” not a hobby. I don’t want that.

So, anyway, there will either be more blogging, or less, or about the same, in the near future. But I’m going to try to make it feel less like work, regardless.

prof yabut small flip  Having already been presumptuous enough to remind Glenn to slow down, we’re confident that we’ll never have to worry about him farming out weblogging duties, merely to satisfy the multitude of addicted and needy fans. 

Ambulance-Chaser Bill Stalls in Tallahassee

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 5:55 pm

back on the market neg   The bill that would ban all lawyer ads soliciting litigation “has apparently stalled in the Florida Legislature after its sponsor told Florida Bar officials he wants time to address concerns before bringing the bill back next year.”  Despite major questions about the ban’s constitutionality, The Florida Bar News Online reports the bill likely would have passed in the full Senate.  (“Attorney advertising bill stalls,” May 1, 2004; and, see sunEthics)  The article notes:

“Rep. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, said he hopes the Bar and the Florida Supreme Court will address lawyer advertising before the 2005 session, or he expects to reintroduce — and pass — legislation that prohibits lawyers from running ads soliciting clients to file lawsuits.”


. . .  “In response to the bill, the Bar Board of Governors, at its April 2 meeting, approved a legislative position that the Bar would support legislation imposing the strictest legislation of attorney advertising consistent with constitutional limitations.”

ethicalEsq discussed HB-1357 in a March 22 posting, with links to the text, to legislative staff analysis, and to current advertising rules, which may already be the most restrictive in the nation.  Prof. Yabut thinks lawyer-sponsor Simmons could use some tutoring in constitutional law (and maybe in logic).  Simmons told the Bar News that “he thinks his bill is constitutional and is necessary to protect the future of the legal profession.”   Rather than offer commentary, let’s let Rep. Simmons speak for himself, in quotes and reportage from his interview with the Bar News (emphases added):

He noted that the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld regulations that ban in-person solicitation by attorneys. “I don’t believe someone should be able to go in the back door and solicit by advertising when they can’t go in the front door [with direct solicitation],” the representative said. “I think it is inaccurate to suggest the strength of television advertising is less than a person appearing personally.” 

wake up call small  “In many ways it [his bill] is a shot over the bow, it’s a wake-up call to The Florida Bar and the Florida Supreme Court and attorneys,” Simmons said.

  • The danger from not regulating ads is the bad advertisements cause the public to mistrust the legal profession. That creates pressure in the legislature for laws that are ultimately damaging to the profession and the legal system, he said. As an example, Simmons noted that last year’s workers’ compensation changes severely limited the role of attorneys in representing injured workers.  An expected review of PIP insurance cases in the next year or so could produce the same result, Simmons said, and there are also efforts to reduce the participation of plaintiff attorneys in personal injury cases.

“The compelling state interest is we need attorneys involved to represent people who are injured and who have their rights violated, and the way things are headed, there is going to be a significant effort to exclude attorneys from all of these processes . . . .  “I am watching the burning of Rome, and if the attorneys sit around and fiddle, we’re going to see the end of the legal profession the way we know it.”

dog neg  Special thanks to Marc Chandler, of Pape & Chandler, for the pointer to this Bar News article. 

Marc’s Florida personal injury law firm specializes in motorcyclist injuries, and has a distinctive line of Pit Bull merchandise, to go along with its 1-800-PIT BULL phone number.   We hope Rep. Simmons will let us know what he thinks of P&C’s marketing efforts.

PostscriptMarc Chandler emailed his own (quite interesting) reply to our query about Pape & Chandler and Rep. Simmons (emphasis added):


“Rep. Simmons is familiar with my firm’s telephone number as he has been quoted in numerous publications as saying that our phone number led him to propose the subject legislation.  You might be interested to know that the initial iteration of the legislation proposed by Rep. Simmons had as one of its stated goals a reduction in litigation, but incongruously permitted any citizen who saw an “offending” commercial to run to a courthouse and file a lawsuit to claim a $1,000.00 penalty.  That wouldn’t “incite litigation” would it?

phone old Our telephone number has been the subject of two bar complaints.  The first bar complaint was filed in 2001 by the then president-elect of the Florida Bar (who happens to be a plaintiff’s attorney) and it was dismissed immediately.  The second bar complaint was filed by another plaintiff’s attorney who is partners with Willie E. “The Giant Killer” Gary ( that is currently pending.  We are confident that we will prevail, if not at the trial level, certainly at the appellate level. [update: wow, were we ever wrong: see, e.g., fla. high court puts down Pape & Chandler’s Pit Bull (Nov. 11, 2005);  U.S.Supreme Court rejects PIT-BULL appeal (March 27, 2006)]

I am a Bostonian and pride myself on my ethical conduct in the courtroom and towards my clients.  I have to laugh at the misplaced efforts of the Florida Bar that are done to enhance the image of lawyers in Florida.      

s/ Marc Chandler, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

NoteAs a 3L, Yabut asked his Professional Responsibility professor back in 1975: “If advertising is so bad, why is General Mills more respected by the public than the Attorney General?”  Result: my worse law school grade.


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