The Chicago Personal Injury Law Blog

Judge Compares Lawyer to Ostrich -- Hurtful, but Defamatory?

Judge Richard Posner is one of the best known law professors and judges in the country. Along with his fame, comes a bit of notoriety too, as the judge has been known to tongue-lash unprepared lawyers who’ve come before him, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

And Posner certainly didn’t disappoint when Dallas-based attorney David McKeand apparently forgot to cite a case that Posner felt was the most recent, on-point decision dealing with a jurisdiction matter the court was considering.

In his opinion, Posner published a photo of an ostrich burying its head into the ground. Next to the ostrich is a suited lawyer similarly burying his head into the ground. In the opinion, the judge said while ostriches were noble and expected to bury their heads into the dirt, it was not the proper behavior for a lawyer, even naming McKeand by name, reports the Sun-Times.

As a result, the whole world can now read a legal opinion written by one of the most respected judges in the country basically lambasting David McKeand for being incompetent.

But is there anything that David McKeand can do about the opinion?

In a lot of situations, when someone writes a harmful statement that injures someone's reputation or business, the victim may be able to sue for defamation.

Unfortunately for McKeand, a defense to defamation is truth. And another defense is that statements made in court are not subject to defamation claims.

So while Judge Richard Posner had some pretty harsh words for David McKeand, there's probably nothing the lawyer can do.

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