A lawyer who fought to promote his case results without restriction and gained a partial win at the Supreme Court of Virginia has agreed to terms to end his battle with bar regulators.
Horace Hunter of Richmond – the blogging lawyer who won a ruling striking down limits on disclosure of courtroom events – has agreed to accept a public admonition and to post the full court-required disclaimer for any future publication of his successes.
The consent order approved July 18 by a 3-judge circuit court panel imposed Hunter’s admonition with the proviso that failure to post the full disclaimer as agreed would result in a public reprimand, a more severe disciplinary sanction.
The Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct generally require a disclaimer for case results that (1) puts the results in a context that is not misleading, (2) states that cases results depend upon a variety of factors, and (3) states that case results do not predict or guarantee a similar result in the future.
The website for Hunter’s firm, www.hunterlipton.com, did not appear to be functional at the time of this writing. It could not be determined if there was any current effort to publicize case results.
Hunter’s public admonition for failing to post a disclaimer was upheld by the Virginia Supreme Court in February, but the court also declared that lawyers may disclose potentially embarrassing information about clients without permission if that information came out in open court.
The lawyer “is no more prohibited than any other citizen from reporting what transpired in the courtroom,” wrote Justice Cleo Powell in a ruling that caught the attention of bar regulators around the country.
The Virginia State Bar had argued lawyers are ethically bound not to publicize information embarrassing or detrimental to clients, even if the information were publicly available to others.
The U.S. Supreme Court in June declined Hunter’s invitation to take up the matter.
NOTE: This post was changed on Sept. 4 to correct the description of the ruling by the Supreme Court of Virginia.