California judge rules lawyer who called for BLM rioters to be shot will not be disbarred

Saab wrote that "due to a lack of clear and convincing evidence, the court dismisses all four counts with prejudice."

Hannah Nightingale Washington DC

A California lawyer has had ethics charges filed against her tossed out after a California Bar Judge ruled that social media posts calling for Black Lives Matter rioters to be shot were "an expression of a provocative opinion, not a directive."

The October 3 ruling from Judge of the State Bar Court Dennis Saab stated that Marla Anne Brown was charged with four counts of professional misconduct by the Office of Chief Trial Counsel of the State Bar of California (OCTC) in relation to statements made on her personal Twitter account over a three-day period in May of 2020.

These four counts include: "moral turpitude by making a misrepresentation on her Twitter biography," "moral turpitude by directing others to commit acts of violence," "committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on her fitness as a lawyer by violating Title 18, United States Code (18 USC), section 2101," and "committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on her fitness as a lawyer by violating California Penal Code, section 404.6, subdivision (a)."

Saab wrote that "due to a lack of clear and convincing evidence, the court dismisses all four counts with prejudice."

The ruling notes that Brown "did not advertise her law practice nor did clients communicate with her or hire her services through" her Twitter, now known as X, account, which did not have a blue check mark, and was "pseudonymous." The ruling stated that Brown’s name and contact information could be discoverable through further internet searches based on her biography information.

The posts in question from Brown came following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which sparked violent, destructive riots across the country in the days, weeks, and months following May 25, 2020.

On May 29, as a "full-scale riot" was underway in Los Angeles where Brown lived, she posted a tweet in response to tweets from Lee Zeldin, an anonymous account, and Sydney Powell, "Can’t wait. At last a reason to shoot them."

A second tweet on May 30 in response to a tweet reply to a post on looting said: "So let CVS leave the neighborhood. Along with Whole Foods and every other quality business. And then watch these sand thugs complain about no business In The Area."

At least seven other tweets were sent on May 30, 2020, including one that stated "they need to be shot," another that stated, "@Brian_Claypool If your client was the Cop involved in the Floyd death you’d be the last person wanting a rush to judgement by the Feds. You don’t even know that Floyd was accused of forgery," and one in response to a tweet from Charlie Kirk calling for Trump to classify Antifa as a domestic terrorist organization, stating "Along with BLM."

Amid the tweets, calls for people to file complaints against Brown with the California Bar circulated on social media.

Additional tweets were sent in late May, but the date and time were unknown for these tweets. In one, she replied to the Mayor of LA account asking "Where’s the national guard you lazy pig," and one in response to Joe Scarborough from MSNBC "Omg Scarborough you’ve hit a new low in stupidity. Let’s go burn your house down with you in it."

Saab wrote that many of Brown’s tweets needed to be looked at in the context of the tweets she was replying to, and that "The only tweet that can arguably be seen as a directive, is Tweet No. 7 ('Shoot the protestors'), which was apparently posted in reply to an earlier tweet that was warning protestors at the intersection of Fairfax Ave. and La Cienega Blvd. that police were on their way."

Saab noted that "when it was brought to her attention that her tweets had upset people, she expressed immediate regret and remorse over her incredibly poor choice of words."

"In view of the totality of the circumstances surrounding Respondent’s tweets, the court finds that there is not clear and convincing evidence that Respondent intended for her words to incite imminent lawless action. Rather, the evidence tends to show that Respondent’s speech was an ill-advised and careless expression of her thoughts and emotions in response to her perceived experience."

Saab also noted that the count related to alleged misrepresentations in her Twitter biography, stating that she was an "LAPD Union Attorney" would be thrown out, stating that "As a preliminary matter, the record did not clearly establish that 'LAPD Union attorney' had a defined meaning, such that it was capable of being proven false." Brown was appointed to the Los Angeles Police Protective League panel in 2000, and served as a panel attorney until 2012.

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