Thursday, December 3, 2015

Changing Rule 1.9

Current state of attorney free speech
There's been some progress on our petition to modify Wisconsin's SCR 1.9 (c), the rule that prevents attorneys from talking about even the public aspects of their closed cases.  In a nutshell, Terry Rose and I are trying to restore some sanity to the situation.  We are asking the supreme court to define "generally known" to include information that is publicly available or has been disclosed in a public forum, and further to recognize that, by definition, generally known information has already been "revealed."

These commonsense definitions would the permit attorneys to discuss, write about, or otherwise disclose public information about our closed cases, in our discretion.  This way, we would be able to present at CLE conferences, write law review articles, and otherwise exercise our basic free speech rights.  In fact, Virginia has already distinguished between truly privileged information and public information, and has declared that rules may not infringe on an attorney's free speech rights with regard to public information about their closed cases.  

But rule 1.9 is such a disaster that free speech isn't even our main argument in support of the rule change.  Click the following links to find our petition, our supporting memorandum, and the supreme court's notice of hearing (which will be "held in the Supreme Court Room in the State Capitol, Madison, Wisconsin, on Tuesday, February 23, 2016, at 9:30 a.m.")  And here is my just-published law review article, On the Absurdity of Model Rule 1.9 (Vermont L. Rev.) that was the basis for our petition.

Attorneys, please consider supporting our petition, bringing sanity back to our supreme court rules, and fighting the general anti-lawyer attitude among state bar associations, academia, and the regulators.

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