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Lawyer Disciplined Over Blog Posts

A California lawyer has been suspended from law practice, in part over comments about a trial he posted to his blog. But the blog comments in this case came about in an unusual way. The lawyer was a juror in a felony trial and had not disclosed that he was an attorney.

For this, lawyer Frank Russell Wilson of San Diego was suspended for 18 months, with the suspension stayed, placed on two years of probation with a 45-day actual suspension, and ordered to take the MPRE within one year, the California Bar Journal reports.

Wilson had closed his law practice prior to the start of the trial and was employed by a wireless communication technology firm. He was empaneled on a jury in the trial of a man charged with five counts of felony burglary. During voir dire, he never disclosed that he was an attorney.

After the judge admonished jurors not to discuss the case verbally or in writing, Wilson posted an entry on his blog about the case. He identified the judge by name and described her as "a stern attentive woman with thin red hair and long, spidery fingers that as a grandkid you probably wouldn't want snapped at you."

He also gave the first name of the defendant and described his alleged crimes, writing, "Nowhere do I recall the jury instructions mandating I can’t post comments in my blog about the trial. (Ha. Sorry, will do.) So, being careful to not prejudice the rights of the defendant -- a stout, unhappy man by the first name of Donald … "

I'd be unhappy too if I was on trial for various felonies. But the defendant later had reason to smile when an appeals court vacated the judgment in his case and ordered a new trial after Wilson's actions came to light. The state bar noted that, in mitigation of his actions, Wilson cooperated in the bar's investigation and had no prior disciplinary record.

[Hat tip to Legal Profession Blog.]

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on August 4, 2009 at 10:57 AM | Permalink | Comments (7)

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