Legal Ethics

Georgia Bar president critical of local lawyer's 'over the top' Super Bowl ad

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While some, including Advertising Week, loved the Superbowl ad Jamie Casino ran locally, telling his story with pyrotechnics, tales of a dead brother and even a Bible quote, the State Bar of Georgia president felt differently.

In a letter published by the Daily Report, Charles Ruffin wrote that “most members” of the Georgia Bar did not approve of what he calls Casino’s “sensationalism and ‘over-the-top’ graphics” as an attempt to get business.

Ruffin, a partner with Atlanta’s Baker Donelson, allows that the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized lawyer advertising as being protected by the First Amendment.

“Therefore, the Bar’s ability to control the content of ads is very limited,” he wrote.

“The best lawyer advertising is designed to educate the public about the law or to help people in need find a lawyer,” Ruffin’s letter states. “I encourage any member of the public to fully investigate the qualifications of a lawyer and not select a lawyer solely based upon the content of an advertisement.”

The advertisement, which according to Vivia Chen’s The Careerist has received more than 5 million YouTube views, tells the story of Casino switching his practice from criminal defense to personal injury, after his brother was killed.

The ad mentions police issues too. It’s been previously reported that shortly after Casino’s brother, Michael Biancosino, was shot and killed over Labor Day 2012, then-Savannah police chief Willie Lovett’s initial public comment was that there were “no innocent victims” among four people murdered that weekend.

The police chief later stated that Biancosino and his girlfriend, Emily Pickels, who was also murdered, were the victims of mistaken identity. Casino has said that he wanted to use the Super Bowl ad to vindicate his brother, for his parents’ sake.

Casino also wrote a response to Ruffin’s letter, which the Daily Report published as well. In it, Casino stressed that he respected Ruffin’s opinion.

“However, I have had significantly more lawyers and nonlawyers commend me than ridicule me for taking a much needed, bold stand in Savannah. I addressed in a powerful manner an epidemic in Savannah—police department corruption,” the letter states.

According to Casino, the advertisement “was not begging for people to call me.” Nor did it have a website listed, or “catchy slogans.”

“Therefore, I want to make it clear that my intent was not to drum up car wrecks, slip-and-falls, dog bites; but more importantly, I am fairly certain its message ruffled some very dirty feathers in the leadership of our scandal-riddled police department,” Casino’s letter, published Feb. 7, states.

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