Published in the Illinois Civil Procedure & Professional Responsibility Blog (May 2013)
In July 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in Berry v. Schmitt, ruled in favor of an attorney who publicly criticized an ethics commission for its handling of an investigation of Kentucky State Senate President David Williams. 688 F.3d 290, 294 (6th Cir. 2012). The attorney, John Berry, alleged that his First Amendment Freedom of Speech rights1 were violated when the Kentucky Bar Association issued a warning letter to Berry for his criticism of the ethics commission. See Berry, 688 F.3d at 294. Berry’s criticism of the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission stemmed from a hearing that the Ethics Commission conducted to investigate a fund-raising complaint against Senator Williams. Id.