State Bar of California Will Not Challenge Decision Exonerating Marla Brown on First Amendment Grounds

Case overview

State Bar of California Will Not Challenge Decision Exonerating Marla Brown on First Amendment Grounds

Los Angeles — Marla Brown is fully and finally exonerated of all disciplinary charges brought against her by the State Bar of California.

Her case has been dismissed with prejudice after the State Bar’s Office of Chief Trial Counsel did not seek review of her complete trial victory.

In March 2023, the Office of Chief Trial Counsel (OCTC) filed disciplinary charges against Marla Brown – an attorney with a previously spotless 32-year history of professionalism – in connection with a series of rhetorical tweets she published from her private Twitter account, expressing concern about the vandalism and violence occurring in the wake of protests in June 2020. 

Following a trial on the merits in summer 2023, Judge Dennis G. Saab of the State Bar Court cleared Ms. Brown of all charges against her. The State Bar Court rightly determined that Ms. Brown’s “pure speech” was not intended nor likely to incite imminent lawless action and was entitled to First Amendment protection. 

While the State Bar initially indicated it would seek review of the Court’s decision, it quietly let the deadline to do so lapse over the 2023 holidays, and the State Bar Court dismissed the action with prejudice and closed the case on December 28, 2023.

“While we are obviously pleased with Ms. Brown’s complete vindication in court, the sad reality is that Ms. Brown’s professional reputation has been forever impacted by a prosecution that should never have been brought in the first place, so soundly were the charges foreclosed by the constitution,” said counsel for Ms. Brown, Krista Baughman of the Dhillon Law Group Inc. “The silver lining is that Ms. Brown’s case will help prevent the arbitrary punishment of other California attorneys for protected speech that the State Bar might find unsavory or controversial.”

“I am thankful that this matter has concluded and that the State Bar Court reached a correct result, soundly supported by legal authority. It is my hope that this result will help avoid similarly unfounded attacks on the free speech rights of other California attorneys. In addition to my trial attorneys, Chris Brizzolara and Dhillon Law Group Inc., I’d also like to thank the Center for American Liberty, whose generosity was a substantial contributor to this successful result. Without their help I doubt this complete victory would have been possible.”

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