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Court: KBA Reprimand Violated Lawyer's Free Speech Rights

A federal appeals court has struck down a reprimand handed down to a Louisville attorney after finding the punishment for criticizing a legislative ethics panel violated his free speech rights.The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that a Kentucky Bar Association regulation governing public comments by attorneys unconstitutionally restricted lawyer John Berry's right to complain about the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission.The Kentucky Bar Association issued a written warning to Berry after he knocked the panel over its handling of allegations concerning state Senate President David Williams' fundraising practices in 2007.Judge John M. Rogers concluded that the Kentucky Bar Association's letter didn't issue a punishment, but had the effect of threatening discipline in the future for similar conduct.