Tweets saying demonstrators should be shot and MSNBC anchor's home should be burned lead to ethics charges
A Los Angeles lawyer is facing ethics charges for Twitter posts calling for the shooting and summary execution of protesters following the 2020 death of George Floyd while in police custody.
The notice of charges alleges that Marla Anne Brown of California wrote more than a dozen social media posts in May 2020 that also urged violence against a news anchor and other members of the public. The notice was filed March 3 by the State Bar of California’s Office of Chief Trial Counsel.
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty in 2021 of second-degree and third-degree murder, as well as second-degree manslaughter, for causing Floyd’s death while kneeling on his neck. Chauvin is white, while Floyd was Black.
The ethics complaint alleges that Brown tweeted:
• “They need to be shot,” in response to a tweet by former President Donald Trump that said, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
• To MSNBC anchor Joe Scarborough, co-host of the Morning Joe program, “Omg Scarborough you’ve hit a new low in stupidity. Let’s go burn your house down with you in it.”
• “Shoot the protesters,” after another Twitter user tweeted: “Heads up LA protesters at #Fairfax and #lacienega, the Venice/La Brea police department just sent about 20 cars over, blocking traffic, traveling fast. Stay safe.”
• “Can’t wait. At least a reason to shoot them,” after another Twitter user said Washington, D.C., is about to “get overrun by antifa.”
• “Yes and they should be shooting the looters,” and “They should be shot. And if it was your busines[s] you’d pull the trigger.”
She also falsely identified herself as an “LAPD union attorney” on her Twitter profile biography. She was never employed by the police union, although she had worked as a panel attorney for the union’s legal defense plan in the past, the ethics complaint says.
The complaint accuses Brown of misrepresentation for the union lawyer claim, moral turpitude for directing others to commit violence, and criminal acts for trying to instigate rioting.
Brown is a graduate of the Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles. She was admitted to the bar in 1989.
She did not immediately respond to the ABA Journal’s voicemail seeking comment.
Law.com noted a 2020 story in the Los Angeles Times in which Brown said her tweets were “horrible” and were a reaction to protests that were near her home.
“It was a stupid thing to do,” Brown told the Los Angeles Times. “I was wrong. I generally temper myself better on things like this because this is not how I feel.”