Keep your Praise to Yourself. Federal Court Reprimands Lawyer who Passed along a Compliment from a Judge

Posted on December 16th, 2014 by sutteroconnell

California Attorney Edward Reines received a public reprimand from the Federal Circuit for improperly disseminating a private email he received from the Chief Judge complimenting him on his performance before one of the appellate panels. Reines had argued a case and one of the panelists shared with Chief Judge Randolf Rader multiple compliments on Reines’ presentation. Judge Rader sent Mr. Reines an email titled “Congratulations” and then went on to relay the praise. The Judge closed the message by stating, “And not only do I not mind, but encourage you to let others see this message”.

Being an industrious attorney and seeing an opportunity for marketing, Reines circulated the email to 35 existing and prospective clients. That got him in trouble. He was sent a show cause order June 5th requesting an explanation as to why he should not be disciplined. His reasoning, and the express consent of the Judge, fell on deaf ears.  The court found that his email “explicitly describes and implies a special relationship between [Reines] and then-Chief Judge Rader”. This was apparently supported by some of the recipients.

Using praise from the bench as a marketing tool is an interesting concept that involves First Amendment rights and the ability of the bar to self-govern. We will continue to monitor this situation and report back.

To read the opinion click here.