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Judge Reserves Decision in Lawsuit Challenging New York Lawyer Advertising Rules

Attorney_ads Greg Beck of Public Citizen, attorneys for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit challenging the recently promulgated lawyer advertising rules, advised me that on Monday, after hearing oral arguments, Judge Scullin reserved his decision. 

You may recall that the trial which had been previously scheduled was canceled, as explained in this post.

This AP article further described the proceedings:

Gregory A. Beck of the Public Citizen Litigation Group contended that the new rules place onerous restrictions on both commercial and noncommercial speech and violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

“If you look at the commercials, consumers suffer no conceivable harm,” Beck told Northern District Senior Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr. “This idea that television somehow brainwashes people doesn't make any logical sense. They are adults, able to make their own decisions.”...

Assistant Attorney General Bridget Holohan told Scullin that advertisements “have to contain relevant, factual, verifiable information because outrageous claims might mislead the public.”

“Giants in Syracuse and aliens marching down the street are not relevant to consumers making decisions,” Holohan said. “We argue where an advertisement is not susceptible to be verified, it's not protected by the First Amendment, The Supreme Court has opened this argument. It's a valid argument. The state's interest is in maintaining professionalism and a free flow of truthful, relevant information. The state has a substantial interest.”

Scullin noted that the Supreme Court has ruled there is First Amendment protection for attorney advertising. “It's not incumbent to show relevancy,” he said. “It's still attorney advertising, which is protected.”

The new state rules were among several revisions embodied in New York's Code of Professional Responsibility. Also banned were Internet pop-up ads and solicitation of clients in chat rooms. Beck asked Scullin to address popups without prohibiting them altogether.

Before reserving his decision, Scullin also asked if it was possible for the state to use the existing rules.

Once I learn of the judge's decision, you'll be the first to know.

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