Norm Kent has made a career out of kicking the butt (in litigation) of disbarred attorney Jack Thompson. We are confident he will prevail once again.
I am writing this letter in my capacity as Bill Gelin’s lawyer in a dispute generated by a complaint Jack Thompson has authored.
Earlier today, Jack Thompson, a former Florida attorney, recently convicted and disbarred on 27 counts of ethical violations, used this blog to freely post a "News Release", announcing that the Florida Bar has opened an ethics complaint against one Bill Gelin.
Mr. Thompson wrote the blog is "owned and operated by Gelin," and that it "traffics in rumors, gossip, and scandal about members of the legal community, including primarily judges."
Nowhere in the press release that Mr. Thompson has gleefully distributed did he disclose that he was the author of this specious complaint, or that it was repetitive, redundant, and previously rejected.
Nowhere in the press release did Mr. Thompson reveal that on two prior occasions this year he has also similarly charged Mr. Gelin with nearly identical complaints that were summarily dismissed.
Nowhere in the press release did Mr. Thompson mention that both files have been closed by the Florida Bar as "unfounded," with authorities concluding each time that "there is no indication Mr. Gelin has violated any Bar rules." In fact, one such letter was signed by Bar staff counsel as early as March 13, 2008.
Nevertheless, Mr. Thompson engineered a new complaint on October 31, which he posted on his own, on this blog, which he claims is moderated by the very person he is complaining about. The new allegations evolve out of the same postings relating to Sean Conway which Mr. Thompson has already unsuccessfully challenged.
Unfortunately, these new allegations, specious again though they are, have caused the Florida Bar to draft a new letter of inquiry to Mr. Gelin, on December 5, 2008. Thus, in accordance with Florida Bar rules, a new file was opened and generated by virtue of yet another hollow complaint authored by the disbarred attorney.
Right or wrong, the Florida Bar is dutibound to review properly sworn allegations, whether they come from a confessed rapist in a state prison, or a disbarred lawyer. The Bar must solicit a reply from the accused party, if only to close the file and summarily dismiss the allegation.
An inquiry letter does not mean the Bar has reached a conclusion, rendered a disposition, or made a judgment. It is simply an invitation for counsel to explain his position, and show how he has not violated any of the rules of our profession. The process can be an unnecessary headache, but we are healthier for it, knowing that legitimate grievances will be processed and lunatics will be sent packing.
All that has happened today is that the Bar has opened a file, once again at Mr. Thompson’s behest. In his latest accusation, Mr. Thompson again misstates and misrepresents material facts. Once again, as I have before, my office will respond to the specious allegations by pointing out the governing law under the Communications Decency Act. We will also show that the blog is a community billboard and people’s website, not ‘owned’ by Mr. Gelin.
I am confident that once again Mr. Thompson’s false charges and broad mischaracterizations will be summarily tossed by the Florida Bar. I am also confident Mr. Gelin will not permit a disbarred attorney to tortiously defame his good name without retaliatory legal action of his own. Mr. Thompson, ever aware of Biblical verses, will soon learn again that he who sows the wind will reap the whirlwind.
This blog, angry, erratic, hostile, and sometimes even mean-spirited is the first amendment at its best and worst. We get sophisticated comments and moronic blathering. We see thoughtful and caring posts as news, and informative revelations about judicial operations. And the price is right.
Ironically, the blog itself was just a piece of a greater goal, which was to create a non profit association to advance justice and advocacy in Broward. The Blog has a life of its own, and no one on it is sacred or untouchable. From ‘Help me Howard’ to a judge whose divorce decision sent an angry plaintiff here to post bitter critiques, we are all potential targets.
Bloggers and blogs, for better or worse, have become the electronic soapboxes of the new century. The posters are no different than the woman standing on the steps of the Courthouse and flailing a Bible in her hand, quoting Scripture. It may be loud and irritating, but lawful and protected. Call it the sounds of democracy.
So too is this unmoderated blog, albeit on a computer, in a website, or across the Internet. It is the breadth of the first amendment, a unique but inalienable right inherent to our citizens, our countrymen, and our constitution. It is worth protecting, and against all the enemies of free speech, we shall.
Norm Kent, Esquire