The US Chief Justice warned around 30 attorneys and trial judges about their activity during numerous worker's compensation cases. The justice told them that the courts can't be used to abuse public or private rights. Through this very unusual format, the judge asked that the lawyers and judges stop delaying justice.
The justice didn't cite the actions of one individual, in particular. Because of the attorney general's complaint that judges were making it hard to look into and then prosecute worker's compensation cases, the judge made his ruling. These comments inspired many lawyers to speak out and chastise the attorney general's comments, which were made outside of court.
The chief justice organized the conference in order to get the justice system working faster, and to prevent mistakes during the process. The judges and lawyers were told to bring the worker's compensation cases to the front of their calenders. Court were told to move the cases up on the dockets, and authorized to use special jury terms to get the cases tried.
One lawyer, at the conference, suggested the order was void because it lacked three of the five justice's signatures. This particular order, which also enacted a gag order, only had one chief justice's signature. Comments made out of court in public venues, recriminations and other criticism made specifically to sway public opinion in any manner is not helpful for the justice system.
The judge reminded the lawyers and judges that they vowed to avoid personality offenses. Should a lawyer have a complaint about another lawyer, the grievance committee, the court or the legal practice commission offers a place to air that. On the part of the judges, the chief justice, he emphasized the need for speedy closing of the cases, but not to ignore due process. Though he did allow questions, the justice ensured everyone knew that complaints or excuses about past actions were not to be made. The right arena would look into those problems.
One attorney wanted to make sure the difference between media reporting and the public commenting by a prosecutor was clearly seen. His client had been indicted by a grand jury. The US Constitution's First Amendment allows for media reporting, but the Canon of Ethics specifically condemns public comments like those made by the prosecution. Another lawyer, whose client used to administrate a workers compensation division, said he had not violated the gag order, but rather had taken legal steps to protect his client.
There was another lawyer who was counseling an indicted lawyer who insisted he wouldn't say inflammatory things just to get a vote. Yet another indicted lawyer's counsel stated that, unless he said something, people might thing that they were guilty because they were keeping everything under wraps. The intensifying rate of publicity given these cases was the concern of another attorney. Yet another lawyer said that his client faces terrible difficulties in overcoming the negative affects of the bad publicity he has received.