Lawyer John Berry criticized the legislative ethics committee for its handling of a complaint. In return the Kentucky Bar Association initiated a disciplinary investigation against him upon the allegation that his statements were either false, or made recklessly concerning the integrity of a "public legal officer." Berry sued.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has just ruled that the Bar Association and its rules violated Berry's rights as protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The KBA continues to astound people with the lengths to which they are willing to go in an effort to stifle free speech.
It is astonishing that any bar official would consider such a letter to be worthy of a referral, let alone possible punishment. What is even more astonishing is that the Bar President and counsel would persist in litigating this case — asserting the right to punish lawyers for speaking out in the public interest. [Jonathan Turley (who by the way was the keynote speaker at last year's KBA convention)]
While this may be the latest case to be reported out against the KBA, it will not be the last.
Unless the KBA and the Kentucky Supreme Court take a different tack in the future it appears that a lot more of the dues of Kentucky lawyers is going to be consumed in prosecuting cases of this sort.