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Hunter v. Virginia State Bar ex rel. Third District Committee

744 S.E.2d 611 (2013)

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Hunter v. Virginia State Bar ex rel. Third District Committee

Virginia Supreme Court

744 S.E.2d 611 (2013)

Facts

Horace Hunter (plaintiff), an attorney with the law firm Hunter & Lipton, P.C., authored a blog titled This Week in Richmond Criminal Defense. The blog, which was accessible from the law firm’s website and was not interactive, contained posts discussing various legal issues and cases. Five of 30 posts discussed policy issues; the remaining posts discussed cases. Hunter represented the defendant in 22 of those cases, and in each case, Hunter’s client either was acquitted, plea bargained for a favorable disposition, or had the charges reduced or dismissed. No disclaimers were included in the blog posts or on the website. The Virginia State Bar (state bar) (plaintiff) charged Hunter with violating Rules of Professional Conduct 7.1 and 7.2 because his blog posts did not contain disclaimers. At the hearing, Hunter testified that he wrote the blog not only for marketing purposes but to combat the public perception that defendants are guilty until proven innocent. The state bar held that Hunter had violated Rules 7.1 and 7.2. The decision was affirmed. Hunter appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Powell, J.)

Dissent (Lemons, J.)

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