« Yale responds to Judge Ho | Main | Revisiting the Koufax Curse »

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Staying in your lawyering lane

Popehat offers a thread on bad lawyering arising from the recording of several Los Angeles City Council members and a union leader using racist slurs in discussing redistricting. An attorney for the LA County Federation of Labor emailed the LA Times, which obtained and published the recordings, threatening to sue. The latter was egregiously wrong (as the Times' lawyer demonstrated in a thorough response)--SCOTUS and SCoCA precedent protects publication of truthful, lawfully obtained information, including material that a third party unlawfully intercepts and passes to the paper, so long as the paper was not involved in the unlawful interception.  In fact, Bartnicki arose from an illegal recording of a conversation between two unions officials during contentious negotiations.

Popehat's thread focuses on the union attorney's "epically foolish" email. He offers three reasons she might have sent it: 1) She is a bad lawyer, which is unlikely in this case; 2) She is an expert on labor law but knows nothing about the First Amendment, so strayed from her area of knowledge; or 3) her client forced her to do this. The solution to # 2 is to recognize your lane and never send something like this without consulting an expert.

I want to add more to # 2. A colleague insists that every student should take First Amendment because every lawyer should know the basics of free speech. Even if you do not practice in the area (and most do not), that basic knowledge informs what you do. And a rudimentary knowledge of basic First Amendment principles can help you avoid errors on those principles.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on October 13, 2022 at 06:12 PM in First Amendment, Howard Wasserman | Permalink

Comments

The comments to this entry are closed.