In Standing Committee on Discipline of the United States District Court for the Central District of California v. Yagman, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that an attorney who publicly criticized a federal judge did not commit sanctionable conduct. In determining whether the attorney, Stephen Yagman, had violated a local rule of professional conduct for lawyers, the court applied a "reasonable attorney" standard, rather than a subjective malice standard. The court held that Yagman's statements, in light of this higher standard, did not violate the rule's prohibition against impugning the integrity of the court. The Ninth Circuit also held that the attorney's statements did not violate the rule's prohibition against attorneys interfering with the administration of justice. In finding no interference with the administration of justice the Ninth Circuit announced a new standard. Under this new standard the attorney's conduct must pose a "clear and present danger" to the administration of justice to be sanctionable. This note examines the Ninth Circuit's analysis of Yagman's statements and questions whether the newly-created "clear and present danger" standard is stringent enough to prevent attorneys from forum shopping. Accordingly, the Ninth Circuit reversed the holding of the district court.
Jeffrey A. White,
Standing Committee on Discipline v. Yagman: The Ninth Circuit Provides Substantial First Amendment Protection for Attorney Criticism of the Judiciary, 26 Golden Gate U. L. Rev.