The Florida State Bar is pursuing disciplinary charges against decorated veteran Chris Crowley over remarks he made about his opponent Amira D. Fox in 2018 when he was campaigning against her for the Office of the State Attorney in Florida’s 20th Judicial Circuit. Most state bars have an ethics rule, adopted from the American Bar Association’s model rules, that restricts attorneys from criticizing public officials, candidates for office, and judges.
A Florida attorney familiar with the case, who preferred not to be identified due to fear of retaliation, told The Arizona Sun Times, “The Florida Bar is now a political organization dominated by the progressive left. The Florida Bar picks and chooses which political speech to go after, depending on who is politically connected. This is a disgrace to the legal profession.”
The source said Fox is part of the establishment.
Crowley was accused of violating Rule 4–8.2(a) of Rules Regulating the Florida Bar, which states, “A lawyer shall not make a statement that the lawyer knows to be false or with reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity concerning the qualifications or integrity of a judge, mediator, arbitrator, adjudicatory officer, public legal officer, juror or member of the venire, or candidate for election or appointment to judicial or legal office.”
The Florida Bar has taken a “strict anti-First Amendment stance,” according to Crowley’s attorneys at The Rutherford Institute, and calls for a one-year suspension of his license for “political speech.” Constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, president of the group, said, “Nowhere in the First Amendment does it permit the government to limit speech in order to avoid causing offense or hurting someone’s feelings, protect government officials from criticism, penalize hateful ideas, combat prejudice and intolerance, and the like.”
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