Appeals court says prominent civil rights lawyer may be held liable for public statements

Colorado Politics: A prominent civil rights law firm in Colorado may be held liable for the public statements of one of its lawyers, the state’s Court of Appeals ruled on Thursday, determining that the First Amendment does not provide a blanket shield for attorneys to make defamatory comments to the media.

Counsel for Killmer, Lane & Newman and one of its more prominent attorneys, Mari Newman, slammed the appellate court’s decision for its deterrent effect on law firms that wish to make public statements about class action lawsuits.

“It is common practice for lawyers to issue press releases announcing the filing of public interest litigation. That practice serves the functions of informing the public of such litigation and, in many cases, in causing potential clients and unknown witnesses to come forward,” said Tom Kelley, who is also an attorney with KLN. “We believe it bad policy to chill the speech of lawyers who would so inform the public.”

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