First Amendment

Lawyer’s Dispute With Bar, Judge Heads for Hearing

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The showdown between an anti-porn crusading lawyer and the Florida Bar is headed for a hearing tomorrow when a federal judge considers the bar’s motion to dismiss the suit.

Florida lawyer Jack Thompson’s dispute with the bar has expanded to include the judge in the case, who has refused a motion to recuse himself.

Thompson’s suit seeks to stop the Florida Bar from considering complaints that contend his criticisms of two judges violated ethics rules. He contends the bar is violating his First Amendment rights.

Thompson filed the recusal motion after Judge Adalberto Jordan of Miami referred Thompson to a court ad hoc grievance committee for attaching photos of gay porn to a court filing. On Friday, Jordan stayed the order (PDF) to give Thompson a chance to defend himself in a hearing.

Thompson says he attached the photos to make a point about the bar’s double standard, since it has not taken action against a lawyer who posted links to the photos on his Web site.

In his order (PDF) denying the recusal motion, Jordan said the fact that a judge forms an opinion in a case based on evidence presented by the parties is not a ground for recusal. He also questioned Thompson’s flurry of court filings in the case.

“In my opinion, the content of the numerous filings submitted by Mr. Thompson indicate that he has difficulty separating the legal issues in this case from broader social issues on which he has strongly held beliefs,” the judge wrote. “Mr. Thompson unfortunately appears to believe that every act taken against him, and any judicial ruling adverse to him, are part of a vast conspiracy designed to silence him and destroy him.”

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