We’ve covered many of Michigan trial lawyer Geoffrey Fieger’s antics and legal troubles here on Overlawyered over the years; his most recent problems include being censured in Arizona and being criminally indicted for illegal campaign contributions.
But he may have managed to wriggle out of punishment for at least one of his shenanigans: his 1999 radio tirade in which he labelled as Nazis the judges who ruled against his client. He was sanctioned by the Michigan courts for this conduct, with the Michigan Supreme Court upholding the discipline against his first amendment challenge in Aug. 2006 (Yes, that’s seven years after the incident.)
But this week, a federal court bought Fieger’s first amendment argument, holding that the rules under which he was sanctioned were unconstitutional.
The rules say lawyers must treat everyone involved in the legal process with “courtesy and respect” and should “not engage in undignified or discourteous conduct” toward the bench.
In the decision released late Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Tarnow said “the rules are unconstitutional on their face because they are both overly broad and vague.”
If we were snide, we might note that it could say something about Fieger that he couldn’t figure out that calling someone a Nazi is not dignified or respectful. We were amused at the Court’s reasoning for why Fieger had standing to challenge these rules:
The likelihood that Plaintiff Fieger may again say something negative about a Michigan court that could subject him to further punishment under the courtesy provisions is not the attenuated situation presented in Grendell. Plaintiff Fieger is a vocal, often harsh, and at times vulgar critic of Michigan’s judiciary.
You don’t say.