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

April 10, 2006

Fla. “Pit Bull ” Court gets Jefferson Muzzles Award

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 11:52 pm

has announced its 2006 Jefferson Muzzles awards, and one of the biggest

“winners” is the Florida Supreme Court, due to its decision banning

Pape & Chandler‘s pit bull logo and 800 phone number.  [many prior

posts]  (Charlottesville, VA, Daily Progress, “Center Names Muzzle

Winners,” April 11, 2006) 

tiny check Only Pres. George W. Bush (for warrantless NSA wiretapping),

The Department of Justice (for its COPA search engine inquiries), and
the Federal Communications Commission (for seeking to restrict cable
and satellite programming deemed “indecent”) came in ahead of the
Pit Bull Court, which placed 4th out of thirteen winners.



The Muzzles are announced each year near Thomas Jefferson’s April
13th birthday anniversary, “as a means to draw national attention to abridg-

ments of free speech and press and, at the same time, foster an apprecia-

tion for those tenets of the First Amendment.”    This year, there is a special

podcast of the Awards.


Taking aim at the Florida Supreme Court’s November 17, 2005 decision

noted that lawyers have been granted First Amendment protection for

their advertisements.  Nonetheless:


“Florida specifically restricts attorney advertising that is ‘sensational’

and that uses ‘slogans’ even to convey factually accurate appeals to

prospective clients.  It was on this basis that the Florida Supreme

Court ruled in November, 2005, that two Fort Lauderdale lawyers,

John Pape and Marc Chandler, must stop airing a TV commercial that

featured a pit bull in a spiked collar and listed the firm’s phone number,

1-800-PIT-BULL.  Such an ad, wrote Chief Justice Barbara Pariente,

implied that lawyers would ‘get results through combative and vicious

tactics that will maim, scar or harm the opposing party.’  Given the

inherently vicious nature of the pit bull, added the Florida high court,

if such ads were permitted ‘images of sharks, wolves, crocodiles and

piranhas could follow.’ 



In response, The Thomas Jefferson Center concluded:

“Regardless how one feels about the tastefulness of such advertising,

the claim that prospective clients could be misled to their detriment by

the pit bull commercial seems outlandish.  None of the recognized

Constitutional exceptions to the status of attorney advertising seem to

apply here. For failing to recognize the First Amendment rights of lawyers

to use unconventional appeals in seeking legal business, the Florida

Supreme Court earns a 2006 Jefferson Muzzle.”



No other courts were on the 2006 Muzzles List.  Here are the

13 awardees:

1) President George W. Bush 
2) The U.S. Department of Justice 
3) FCC Chairman Kevin Martin 
4) The Florida Supreme Court 
5) New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg 
6) Hecklers of the Ann Coulter Speech at UConn
7) The Yelm (WA) Town Council
8) The U.S. Department of Homeland Security
9) The Command Authority of the U.S. Army Base at

Fort Bragg, NC
10) The School Administrations of Tennessee’s Oak   dog black

Ridge High School, Florida’s Wellington High School,

and California’s Troy High School
11) Orange County (FL) School District Superintendent

Ron Blocker
12) William Patterson (NJ) University Administration
13) U.S. Representative Joe Barton 



Former awards back through 2000 can be accessed at the Center’s website.

The only other judicial winner came in 2004, when the First Place Muzzle went 

to Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum for closing the Martha Stewart trial to the


update (5 PM): Pape & Chandler have updated a webpage describing their

experiences since choosing the Pit Bull logo and becoming targets for the

Florida Bar Association.  It has links to many relevant documents, plus a

photo of Siegfried & Roi.



invisible fence
. . .
no sign of the dog 




cat’s purr

too loud

for poetry





spring morning

my dog marks

a clump of dandelions





     Hilary Tann   

     “invisible fence” – The Heron’s Nest (Aug. 2003)         

    “cat’s purr” & “spring morning” – Upstate Dim Sum (2005/II)


dog neg



  1. To paraphrase Ben Shahn: “You have not converted a pit bull because you have muzzled him.”

    Comment by George Wallace — April 11, 2006 @ 11:28 am

  2. In other news — posted here just because it is your topmost post at the moment — Bloglines had some sort of horrific server outage this morning. It has reemerged now and — wonder of wonders! — the “f/k/a. . . .” RSS feed that has been missing these past couple of months has finally been restored.

    There is much rejoicing.

    Comment by George Wallace — April 11, 2006 @ 3:27 pm

  3. Hi, George. Are you referring to the dog, the law firm or the Court?

    Thanks great news about Bloglines. Please let me know if they start missing my feed again.

    Comment by David Giacalone — April 11, 2006 @ 4:56 pm

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