MI Lawyer Courtesy Rule Overturned
Posted Sep 7, 2007 6:51 AM CST
By Debra Cassens Weiss
Controversial Michigan lawyer Geoffrey Fieger has won a round in his battle with Michigan state judges.
A federal judge has struck down a state court rule used to sanction Fieger for calling state appeals judges jackasses in a radio interview and comparing them to Nazis, the Detroit News reports. The rules require lawyers to treat those involved in the legal process with "courtesy and respect" and bar “undignified or discourteous conduct" toward judges.
U.S. District Judge Arthur Tarnow of Detroit said the rules violate the First Amendment because they are overly broad and vague.
Mike Dezsi, who represented Fieger in the case, said lawyers need to be able to engage in robust discourse. "All lawyers should rest easier, knowing they are not going to be disciplined for criticizing or speaking out against judges," he told the Detroit News.
Fieger’s troubles are not over, however. He is charged with making illegal contributions to the campaign of John Edwards. Fieger, who pleaded not guilty, told the Detroit Free Press he sees a connection between the pending criminal charges and his criticism of judges.
The decision “demonstrates the concerted effort by both state and federal officials designed to silence me and disrupt my law firm's ability to advocate for the weak, the oppressed and the abused," he said.