Monday, May 20, 2013

Joint Post by Justice Building, South Florida Lawyers, and Southern District of Florida Blogs!


You lose your rights, not with a bang, but with a whimper. One small encroachment after another. A bureaucrat pushes the edges here, a prosecutor challenges the boundaries in a few cases there. No one says or does anything and then you look up and suddenly a cherished right is gone. 
Nothing is more insidious and dangerous to our constitutional rights than a bureaucrat who, under the cover of a government agency, seeks to intimidate someone. That is why the letters we have posted  from the Florida Bar to attorney and blogger William Gelin have so alarmed us:the bloggers who run the Justice Building Blog, the South Florida Lawyers Blog, and the Southern District of Florida Blog.

WIlliam Gelin runs the JAA Blog which covers the Broward County Courthouse. To Mr. Gelin's credit he has never sought to hide his identity as the lawyer behind the blog. As a blogger who has openly challenged the way things are done in Broward, Mr. Gelin has courageously taken on numerous people in Broward County, including judges. Now, apparently after a series of posts about two Judges in West Palm Beach and Broward County, (ironically) anonymous bar complaints have prompted the Bar to send Mr. Gelin letters seeking him to admit or deny his involvement in the JAA Blog. 

We as the legal blogging community in Miami view these letters as an unprecedented attack on the First Amendment and freedom of speech. The letters are chilling, and will have a chilling affect on the free speech of lawyers. Judges are invested with responsibilities and powers and all too often those powers cloud their judgment. The ability of lawyers to freely comment on a Judge represents an important check on those powers. The ability of citizens to write about the issues of the day has a long and storied history in our country. James Madison anonymously published many of the federalist papers under the pseudonym Publius in the local newspapers of the time. Blogging, anonymous and otherwise, serves a similar purpose. 

The Florida Bar's letters to Mr. Gelin amount to both a fishing expedition and a veiled threat for him to stop criticizing Judges from the pages of his blog.  We jointly condemn the letters the Bar has written, and stand behind our colleague in this matter. That is why all three blogs have taken the unprecedented step of running this post simultaneously.We urge our readers to voice their support of Mr. Gelin by writing to the Bar to condemn the actions of the Bar Counsel in this case. 

Thank you. 

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Keep up the awesomeness, SFL!

Anonymous said...

Based upon what I know of Bar proceedings, the Bar is permitted to fish until they get tired of fishing. They can initiate action against an attorney based on an anonymous complaint, from a newspaper article, blog, or pretty much because someone criticizes them.

The inquiry may amount to nothing, but the mere fact that the Bar had the nerve to write to Mr. Gellin is troublesome and a bit more than chilling. It is downright scary.

Seriously, what business is it of the Bar's what Mr. Gellin says on his blog as long as he is not doing anything illegal? The Bar is taking its cues from the professional sports leagues who seem to think it is ok to fine a player for criticizing a ref or some other official. Maybe the Bar will make this go away if Mr. Gellin pays a 5k fine to the victims' compensation fund?

I am embarrassed that I do not have the guts to sign my name to this, but I guess I will have to deal with that with my shrink at my next appointment.

Godwhacker said...

The kitchen is hot. We cook because we like the heat.

Anonymous said...

Fight on Gellin.

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Where is Jack Thompson when you really need him?

Free Alex Michaels! said...


ALEX MICHAELS NEEDS AN ALLY RALLY

THIS THURSDAY 4-9 PM

TOOTSIES GENTLEMAN'S CLUB

Because Alex is a Gentleman and Michael Von Zoom Away is not.

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