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September 13, 2007

Attorneys say campaign ads slander them

Posted by David Postman at 10:09 AM

The trial attorneys funding the Referendum 67 campaign say that the insurance industry's ads making fun of lawyers are "slanderous, uncivil and reckless." Karen Koehler, president of the Washington State Trial Lawyers Association, wrote a letter last week to the Washington State Bar Association, with copies sent to members of the state Supreme Court, complaining about TV spots featuring the made up law firm of "Sooem Settle & Kashin." The Reject 67 campaign, which wants to repeal a new state law that allows judges to award triple damages in insurance cases, has used the parody in two different TV spots. You can watch them here and here.

Koehler wrote:

These ads are an affront to all lawyers. They are causing irreparable damage to the efforts of the WSBA to instill public confidence in the bar. They are slanderous, uncivil, and reckless.

When the trial attorneys say "slanderous," it's a threat of litigation, says Dana Childers, the spokeswoman for the Reject 67 campaign.

It is amazing that the trial lawyers don't see the irony of threatening to sue someone who criticizes them for filing too many frivolous lawsuits.

But, that's in fact what their letter says.

The letter asks the bar association to take action against the ads:

1. Issuance of a public statement condemning the ads

2. Adoption of a resolution condemning the practice of generalized, slanderous attacks on the legal profession for the purpose of political gain

3. Enactment of remedial action to counter the negative effects of the ads upon the public

4. Submission of a letter to the offending entity requesting that they cease and desist utilizing generalized, slanderous lawyer attack ads

It is of critical importance that the WSBA not stand by silently while the public is whipped into a frenzy by special interest groups bent on destroying credibility of our profession.

The bar association has so far taken no action on the letter, said association spokeswoman Judy Berrett.

The insurance industry has donated an astounding $7.7 million to the Reject 67 campaign. The Approve 67 campaign has raised $752,706, most from trial attorneys.

ALSO: The Approve 67 campaign has dropped one of its endorsers, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN. The group was among endorsers in a July 11 press release from the campaign and added to the campaign's list of backers.

About two weeks later, ACORN workers were charged in what is said to be the largest voter fraud case in state history. Approve 67 spokeswoman Sue Evans said:

We did remove them from the list after we learned about the investigation.

It is also important to note that we have more than 35-plus organizations (not including individuals and local Democratic leg districts, and others etc.) that are on board with the Approve 67 campaign.

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