Tips from a Judge on Properly Criticizing Judicial Decisions

Vol. 15 No. 10

By

The Honorable Walter C. Kurtz served as a Circuit Judge for Davidson County, Tennessee, from 1982 to 2008, and is currently a Senior Judge for the State of Tennessee. Prior to joining the bench, he was the Metropolitan Public Defender for Nashville and Davidson County and Director of Legal Services of Nashville. He has taught at both Vanderbilt University Law School and the University of Tennessee College of Law.

ABA Model Rule of Professional Conduct 8.2(a) prohibits a lawyer from “mak[ing] a statement that the lawyer knows to be false or with reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity concerning the qualifications or integrity of a judge, adjudicatory officer or public legal officer, or of a candidate for election or appointment to judicial or legal office.” This rule is consistent with the longstanding premise that attorneys are officers of the court and, therefore, are charged with maintaining the integrity of the system. Making false and reckless allegations about a judge undermines the rule of law and can lead to ethical and professional problems for any lawyer, young or seasoned.

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