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7th Circuit hears arguments on judicial free speech

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments Friday morning in the case of Indiana Right to Life vs. Randall T. Shepard, et al., 06-4333, in which the state's Commission on Judicial Qualifications and Disciplinary Commission want the court to reverse the District Court's ruling that granted a permanent injunction against provisions in Indiana's Code of Judicial Conduct.

Representing the appellants, George T. Patton Jr. argued the plaintiffs in the case, Indiana Right to Life, do not have standing to bring the suit, stating Indiana Right to Life isn't a judge or judicial candidate and not subject to the canons, and are free to say and publish whatever information they want.

The question of why Indiana Right to Life was bringing the suit instead of a judge or judicial candidate was asked several times by the Circuit judges.

The Circuit judges also asked why Indiana Right to Life filed the suit instead of the judges. In response, the appellees argued the judges declined to answer the questionnaire because they feared facing disciplinary actions.

The judges also questioned how the canons affect Indiana Right to Life in their ability to publish the results of the two judges who did answer the organization's questionnaire.

The appellee argued the listener has an equal constitutional right to receive free speech and cited Shimer v. Washington, 100 F.3d 506 (7th Cir. 2003) and Penny Saver Publications, Inc. v. Village of Hazel Crest, 905 f.2d 150 (7th Cir. 1990). The person injured by not receiving speech brought the suits, in which the 7th Circuit held they had standing. Indiana Right to Life has constitutional right to receive speech as a listener and their speech has been chilled because of the prospect of punishment of those judges or judicial candidates who answered the questionnaires or declined to answer for fear of sanctions, the appellee argued.

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  1. A sad end to a prolific gadfly. Indiana has suffered a great loss in the journalistic realm.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  4. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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