Justinian C. Lane, Esq.
Let Justice Be Done, Though the Heavens May Fall

Justinian Lane's Blog

Justinian's Blog

Who needs an independent judiciary, anyway?

Yahoo reports about a proposed bill in Florida that would severely limit the right of lawyers to advertise. Let's take a look:

"After proposing that the Florida Legislature assume responsibility for writing court procedural rules, some lawmakers now want to take over another judicial branch function by setting dramatic new limits on lawyer advertising."

Why does the thought of politicians writing court rules scare the hell out of me? Seriously, it's frightening to think that politicians seriously want to run the court system in Florida. My memory is a little hazy when it comes to civics class, but don't we have three branches of the government to act as checks and balances? It would seem to me that the Florida legislature wants to limit the power of the judiciary. But, let's go further into the article.

"As part of a wide-ranging medical malpractice bill introduced Monday in the House Insurance Committee, Republican House Speaker Johnnie Byrd has inserted a provision calling for unprecedented limits on advertising by lawyers in the medical negligence area."

Doctors, yet again, are used as pawns in the political process. Tort reformers have realized the fact that the public, in general, loves doctors and hates lawyers. Therefore, tort reform measures are often sold to the public as a way to stop "greedy lawyers" from running doctors out of business. Of course, the doctors are purportedly run out of business because of spiraling insurance rates. Yet again, no one questions the insurance cartel. The article has more:

"The measure comes on the heels of the House Judiciary Committee unanimously approving a bill last week that would apply to all attorney advertising. Both bills contend that attorney advertising has "created a crisis in this state's judicial system," though the sponsors offer no empirical evidence for that controversial claim."

Who needs empirical evidence when your argument involves taking actions against lawyers? After all, look at what those damned lawyers have done to this country: They've brought civil rights lawsuits that let those pesky blacks into white schools. They've held corporations like Johns Manville accountable for knowingly killing people with asbestos. And those horrible lawyers even have the audacity to sue doctors when they amputate wrong body parts.

"The legislation passed by the House Judiciary Committee last week would make it illegal to advertise in "a manner that solicits legal business for a profit by urging a person to consider bringing legal action against another." It proposes a civil penalty of $1,000 for the initial offense and $2,000 for each subsequent offense."

I'm not sure if I even have words to express how ridiculous this is. I think that Andrew S. Berman, a partner at Young Berman Karpf & Gonzalez, came close when he said that the bill "would get laughed out of federal court." Considering that this bill wouldn't - as lawyers put it - "withstand constitutional scrutiny," why the push for it? The article explains that, too:

"The moves to limit lawyer advertising come as the Republican-dominated Legislature increasingly seeks to exercise control over the Florida Supreme Court and the state judiciary, whose rulings at times have incurred the wrath of Gov. Jeb Bush and legislative Republicans."

Jeb and his pals seem to think that the best way to run a government is to erase the system of checks and balances between the three branches of government, and instead have a hierarchy which puts the executive branch at the top with the legislative and judiciary branches of the government subservient to the whims of the executive branch. I'm sure Jeb's brother couldn't agree more.

Simmons' proposed statute reads that the Legislature "has determined" that legal advertising that incites a person to file suit "destroys the personal responsibility of individuals, fosters frivolous litigation, and demeans the judiciary and the practice of law."

Personal responsibility? Why don't doctors who commit malpractice take personal responsibility and pay up? Why don't corporations make their employees take personal responsibility and refuse to release defective products. Why don't legislators take personal responsibility and quit passing laws that protect wrongdoers and prevent the injured from seeking redress?

There are many groups who believe that tort reform isn't even about protecting big business, but it's about taking money away from trial lawyers, who are the largest contributors to the Democratic party. News stories like this make me wonder if that's not really the case.