Texas Law Bars Workers Comp Lawyers From Saying They're From Texas

from the workers-comp-lawyer-in-that-big-state-in-the-south dept

Ima Fish alerts us to yet another bizarre state law against free speech. John Gibson, a lawyer from Lubbock, Texas, who is an expert in workers' compensation, is suing the state after it sent him a cease and desist letter for having a blog at TexasWorkersCompLaw.com. It turns out that Texas has a law on the books that forbids workers' comp lawyers from saying they're from Texas. Basically, the law forbids the use of "workers comp" and "Texas" together. Gibson, reasonably, finds the whole thing absolutely ridiculous:
Gibson says the words are not the intellectual property of the state, but are in the public domain, that no governmental interest is served by regulating them, and that forbidding their use is an impermissible restraint on free speech.

"For instance, under the terms of the regulation, a physician or medical clinic would be prohibited from advertising that they accept workers' compensation patients in Texas. Any attorney who was board certified would also be strictly prohibited from using the phrase 'Board Certified in Workers' Compensation Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization,' which is the accepted manner and form for disclosing Board Certification in Texas," the complaint states. "These and other unnecessary restrictions on advertising are the result of § 419.002, without serving any governmental interest."
We've seen similar -- if somewhat less egregious -- attempts by states to regulate lawyers' speech, usually under rules designed to limit how lawyers can advertise their services. A few years ago, there were issues about the legality of some law blogs in NY and Kentucky, due to overly restrictive laws. But this particular rule concerning workers' comp attorneys goes way beyond that. It really just seems to be designed as an attack on workers' comp lawyers. It makes you wonder just who was behind getting it passed in the first place.


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  1.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Mar 11th, 2011 @ 11:46am

    Seems like a law that would be better applied to patent lawyers...

     

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  2.  
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    Dean Landolt, Mar 11th, 2011 @ 12:09pm

    @Marcus: Heh, but I doubt the patent lawyers in Marshall need to advertise at all!

    Which brings up an important point about free speech: IIRC the bar for protection is substantially lower for commercial speech. You'd think this lawyer would know that and not specifically pigeon-hole his complaint by referring to "unnecessary restrictions on advertisement". This is of course more than just a restriction on commercial speech so this seems like a pretty bad move.

     

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  3.  
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    Chosen Reject (profile), Mar 11th, 2011 @ 12:09pm

    That's ridiculous

    Here is the law. That's ridiculous.

     

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  4.  
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    BBT, Mar 11th, 2011 @ 12:09pm

    Are they allowed to say that they are Shmorkers Shmompensation Shmawyers from Shmexas? How about Orkersway Opmensationcay Awyerslay romfay Exastay?

     

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  5.  
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    Mike42 (profile), Mar 11th, 2011 @ 12:33pm

    I wonder...

    Do you think our robot overlords will be any worse than the corporate overlords we server now?

     

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  6.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Mar 11th, 2011 @ 12:38pm

    Re: I wonder...

    Yes!! They'll be far more efficient at being evil bastards! Right now our only real protection from our corporate overlords is their ignorance and incompetence. Imagine if they were not ignorant and incompetent how very very bad things would be...

     

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  7.  
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    Douglas Smith (profile), Mar 11th, 2011 @ 1:21pm

    Didn’t the US Supreme Court just recently give Corporations the same First Amendment Rights as (persons) Citizens?

     

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  8.  
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    Adam Wasserman (profile), Mar 11th, 2011 @ 1:45pm

    Intent

    The intent of the law seems like it might be reasonable: to ensure that no unscrupulous private commercial practice insinuates state endorsement.

    It is simply that it is badly written.

     

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    streetlight (profile), Mar 11th, 2011 @ 2:02pm

    Lawyers and Physicians should not advertise.

    Lawyers and Physicians should not advertise. Period.

     

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  10.  
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    Tom Landry (profile), Mar 11th, 2011 @ 2:24pm

    I'm confused, why is such a law on the books in the first place? What compelled lawmakers to pass such a thing in the first place?

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2011 @ 2:25pm

    Re: Lawyers and Physicians should not advertise.

    What!?! You've got to be kidding me! If lawyers don't advertise, then late might tee vee viewers would be deprived of commericals (in Denver Colorado, anyway) from "Bulldog" Bob Brown, an ex-judge specializing in personal injury claims, "The Strong Arm" of Franklin D. Azar (what a hoot!) and "The Tiger", a lawyer whose proper name eludes me. Also, we late nite tee vee viewers would no longer be able to puzzle over what "personal aesthetic plastic surgery" means, given that the commercials in questoin are so specific about collagen, breast augmentation, and liopsuction.

    Oh, and what about those half-hour "micro-graft" hair replacement info-mercials? Doubt I could watch late nite tee vee without them!

    I'm sure other cities

     

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    hmm (profile), Mar 11th, 2011 @ 2:27pm

    periods?

    Lawyers definitely shouldn't be advertising about periods....but perhaps physicians should (but only if they have their lady-parts training)......

     

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  13.  
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    Adam Wasserman (profile), Mar 11th, 2011 @ 3:15pm

    Re: Lawyers and Physicians should not advertise.

    @streetlight

    The way this law is written it affects more than lawyers and physicians. It would affect - for example - a community center providing advocacy services.

    I respect your opinion, however it is not entirely relevant to subject of this discussion thread.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2011 @ 4:22pm

    Re: Intent

    Badly enforced as well…the state might want to consider the propriety of enforcing a law in a manner that is likely to be struck down by the court.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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