Dwyer v. Cappell, No. 13-3235 (3d Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Attorney Andrew Dwyer and his law firm (collectively, Dwyer) launched a website that published excerpts from judicial opinions by New Jersey judges about Dwyer’s lauded abilities as a lawyer. One of the judges requested that his quoted comments be removed from the website, but Dwyer refused on the ground that the quotation was not false or misleading. As a result of the dispute, the New Jersey Bar’s Committee on Attorney Advertising (Committee) proposed, and the New Jersey Supreme Court eventually adopted, an attorney-conduct guideline that banned advertising with quotes from judges or judicial opinions. The final version of the guideline, however, allowed attorneys to advertise with the full text of judicial opinions. The day before the guideline went into effect Dwyer filed this action seeking injunctive and declaratory relief, arguing that the guideline was an unconstitutional restriction on speech. The district court granted summary judgment for the Committee, concluding that the guideline was not a ban on speech but instead was a disclosure requirement. The Third Circuit reversed, holding that the guideline, as applied to Dwyer’s accurate quotes from judicial opinions, violated his First Amendment right to advertise his commercial business. Remanded.