From time to time, judges are not at their best. The tempers of opposing lawyers can get the better of them, as well.
We have free speech rights enshrined in the First Amendment of our federal constitution. The Minnesota Constitutional “free speech” provision is a little more confusing, giving with one clause what it seems to take away or threaten with the next clause (“all persons may freely speak, write and publish their sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of such right”).
But neither the state or federal constitution seem to offer any protection to lawyers when their language crosses the line. As Minnesota ethics icon, Bill Wernz, points out this month in his ethics update, Minnesota lawyers must exercise care and caution in the use of indelicate speech.
Sticks and stones may break legal advocates’ bones. Poor word choice can f*ck them up pretty good, too.