|Florida Attorney Jeffrey Norkin|
The referee assigned to the case found that Norkin had violated that rule as well as others and recommended a 90 day suspension followed by a 180 day period of probation. The Florida Supreme Court also found Norkin had violated the rules, but imposed a two year suspension with other conditions and sanctions.
|Florida Supreme Court|
The Florida Supreme Court simply ignores that issue in its opinion. Its lengthy opinion also ignores Norkin’s extensive submission of facts and evidence, discussed in his over 100 pages of briefs. As I have learned all too well, when you're charged with a speech violation as an attorney, no amount of evidence will be ever be found sufficient to justify your speech. I don't think an attorney anywhere has ever met that burden in the eyes of the disciplinary authorities.
At all times, Judge Dresnick's rulings and demeanor have been favorable to Ferguson, who has, in fraudulent and criminal manner, used this Court as an instrument of destruction. He has accomplished this exclusively through the conduct of the case by Judge Dresnick.
. . . [I]t seems apparent that Judge Dresnick has known and been well-acquainted with opposing counsel, Gary Brooks, Esq. They exchange personal information and are very friendly with each other. On the other hand, there have been no such pleasantries between Judge Dresnick and this attorney. Obviously, based on the foregoing, Judge Dresnick's treatment and demeanor toward undersigned has been quite opposite: hostile, impatient, and highly critical and disapproving.The hearing officer and the Florida Supreme Court concluded that this act also violated Rule 8.2. Again, the court's opinion was devoid of analysis as to a critical issue - how can an attorney make the obligatory allegation of bias sufficient to warrant a judge recusing himself if that allegation of bias is going to subject that attorney to a disciplinary action? Further, it is apparent that much of Norkin's opinion of Judge Dresnick was based on his observations of Dresnick during hearings. How could the referee and the Florida Supreme Court justices simply conclude that Norkin's opinion of his observation of Dresnick's behavior in court was wrong and sanctionable when Judge Dresnick did not even testify at Norkin's hearing? Then of course you have the issue of whether Rule 8.2 even applies to opinions, yet another issue that the Florida Supreme Court simply ignores. According to the notes accompanying Model Rule 8.2, the rule was never intended to apply to statements of opinions.
In a footnote slapping themselves on the back for their opinion, the Florida justices declared: "[m]embers of The Florida Bar, law professors, and law students should study the instant case as a glaring example of unprofessional behavior." Better yet, the Norkin opinion should be read by members of the Florida Bar, law professors, and indeed attorneys everywhere, as a glaring example of a court allowing its subjective displeasure with an attorney prevent it from engaging in an objective and unbiased analysis of the facts of a case, the applicable disciplinary rules and court decisions that protect an attorney's free speech rights under the First Amendment.