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

February 5, 2005

pit-bully pulpit

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 6:22 pm

The legal Guard Dogs of Dignity are straining at their leashes again down in Florida.  You can read the next

chapter in their attack on the Pit Bill logo of Fort Lauderdale lawyers Pape & Chandler, in the Florida State Bar’s 

Initial Brief to the Florida Supreme Court (Case Nos: SC04-40/SC04-41).

There’s plenty of background on the case in our prior posts, such as here and here.  The referee’s 

decision in Florida Bar v. John Pape and Marc Chandler, along with the original Bar complaint,

and P&C’s comprehensive Memorandum of Law , can be found here.   The Referee and ruled that

neither the 1 (800) PITBULL number, nor P&C’s logo are deceptive or otherwise violative of the Rules

Regulating the Florida Bar; he also held that the State’s lawyer advertising rules are unconstitutional

restrictions on commercial speech as applied here by The Florida Bar.

Before you read the highlights of FBA’s case, please note that this is a b&w version of the logo in question:






As we discuss here, FBA is represented by famed appellate Tallahassee lawyer Barry Richard.  But all of

Richard’s talents could not turn this sow’s ear (horse’s rear?) of a case into a winner.


Here are excerpts from their brief that make the main points argued by Richard and FBA:


tiny check The use in a lawyer’s advertisement of a picture of a spiked-collar pit bull and the telephone

 number 800-PIT-BULL provides the consumer with nothing of informational value and is

designed to convey the idea that the lawyer engages in tactics that are considered unprofessional

and that are prohibited in practice. Because such tactics are prohibited, the suggestion that the

lawyer can engage in them is inherently misleading in violation of Rule 4-7.2(b)(4). Moreover, the

use of reference to a pit bull is intended to describe or characterize the lawyer’s services in violation

Rule 4-7.2(b)(3).


tiny check  The referee’s distinction between the characteristics of a lawyer and of a lawyer’s legal services for advertising purposes makes no sense and serves no purpose. For purposes of advertising for legal business, a lawyer’s personal traits and the traits attributable to his or her legal services are indistinguishable.


“tinyredcheck”  There is no constitutional prohibition on regulating commercial speech that is more likely to deceive the public than inform it. The possibility of deception in using pit bulls in lawyer advertising is selfevident.

(emphasis added)


tiny check  The purpose for which statements are used in lawyer advertising is key.  Here, it would be one thing if the pit bull references were being used to communicate that Respondents represent victims of dog bites or matters involving pit bulls. Such a statement would be an objective, verifiable fact and would provide the same type of useful information as did the Dalkon Shield picture in Zauderer. But the Respondents do not claim to practice dog bite or pit bull law and are not trying to convey such information.  What they are patently attempting to convey is a suggestion that they possess and use in their practice certain traits that are subjective and unverifiable by any objective test.Case law is abundant regarding the vicious nature of pit bulls.


tiny check Surveys or equivalent evidence is not required for the possibility of deception involving an aspect of our culture that is so commonplace and self-evident. 


tiny check  Descriptions or depictions of lawyers or their legal services as embodying the traits of pit bulls do not comport with the professional standards to which lawyers are currently held in Florida. It is the Bar’s position that Respondents’ television advertisements do nothing but threaten such professional standards and erode the confidence of the public in the legal system.


Take another look at that logo and tell me what is “self-evident” about the intent of the advertising lawyers or the effects of the image on the public.  I’m not convinced that the pit bull logo injures consumers in any way.  Wasting scarce bar counsel resources on this matter — and the appeal — on the other hand, surely means that more important disciplinary matters are being shortchanged.


update (Feb. 22, 2005): You can find Pape & Chandler’s Answer Brief here.  




not much afternoon left–

his dog runs loose

ahead of him


dog black



the dog out–

the stars in




distant thunder–

the dog’s toenails click

against the linoleum


(Canon Press, 1999)



the first snowfall
doesn’t hide it…
dog poop


mother dog
blocks with her butt…



click here for 32 winter haiku by Issa featuring dogs 



by dagosan:  

sunset tints

the cloudbank pink —

avoiding yellow snow

                                                  [Feb.5, 2005]


 Speaking of lawyer ethics. take a peek at this article from February’s Washington

Lawyer, which “reviews the most popular of [website] disclaimers and discusses

the ways in which they may be featured on a law firm’s web site for maximum effect.”

(Thwarting Ethical Violations With Web Site Disclaimers, by Walter A. Effross )

My favorite passage:

These disclaimers can be taken to unusual and somewhat amusing lengths.

For instance, the terms-and-conditions page of one firm, whose site provides

a panoply of pages on its practice groups, lawyers, and publications, nonetheless

insists that the site is intended only to provide “general information to law students

and others who are considering a career at [the firm] or are interested in the firm.”

Similarly, another firm claims that “[t]his website is primarily intended for use by

law school students considering a career at our firm.”


the cookie curmudgeon checks in

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 3:28 pm

Somebody needs to register a cautionary dissent to the tongue-clucking that is going on over the 

$930 judgment entered this week against two young Colorado women who wanted to surprise their

neighbors with fresh-baked cookies.  (see Walter, more Walter, and Fedster; MIPTC; Denver Post story;

ABC/GMA)  In case you missed it, their gesture of neighborliness triggered a serious anxiety attack in

one lucky beneficiary, Wanita Renea Young, 49, and she sued the pair in small claims court for medical

bills.  For more background, read the full account given in their local newspaper, Durango Herald, “


chipCookies  I guess it’s up to skepticalEsq to try to bring a little balance to the story. 


— click here for the rest of this story, which concludes, after making some darn good points:

Suggesting that this episode means no one should act kindly toward neighbors or strangers, or that doing so in a thought-full, thought-through manner raises unacceptable risks of being sued, is simply asinine.  Almost any case can be made to sound like a miscarriage of justice, or a symbol of what’s wrong with our society or legal system, if you leave out enough facts.   I have little hope for the main-stream media, but I wish my weblawg colleagues would try a little harder to present cases in a fair manner. 


“the rice cake man
is next door!”
the child announces

my child’s rice cakes
my child’s rice cakes…
all in a row


stomping and singing
on rice cake and jelly…




by dagosan:  

empty cookie tin — 

hermit heads

to bed


                          [Feb.5, 2005]


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