On Friday, April 7, 2023, Los Angeles attorney Marla Anne Brown filed her Response to the Notice of Disciplinary Charges filed by the State Bar of California for violent and inflammatory comments she made directed towards demonstrators protesting the death of George Floyd.
The case is styled ‘In the Matter of Marla Anne Brown’ under Case No. SBC-23-30270.
The charges cited Ms. Brown’s violation of Rule 8.4(b) of the Rules of Professional Conduct, which prohibits:
A criminal act that adversely reflects a lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects.
The disciplinary charges stemmed from Brown’s public tweets that directed others to commit acts of violence, including calls to shoot, summarily execute, and burn down the homes of members of the public. Such posts, according to the State Bar have the intent to incite a riot and attempted to perform the overt act of instigating other persons to riot by directing the public to shoot, execute, and burn down the properties of the protesters who were participating in the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests during the height of civil unrest following George Floyd’s murder at the hand of Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin on May 25, 2020.
It was further alleged that Brown committed intentional misrepresentation when she held herself out to the public as an attorney for the Los Angeles Protective League (LAPL) in her Twitter profile biography when Brown knew that statement was false and misleading at the time it was made.
The Notice of Disciplinary Charges reads:
“On or about May 28, 2020, at 9:53 p.m., then United States President Donald Trump tweeted:“….These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and Iwon’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!” On or about May 30, 2020, a member of the public with Twitter handle @Ra##### questioned President Trump’s May 28, 2020 tweet and use of the statement, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” On or about May 30, 2020, at approximately 2:35 p.m., in response to @Ra#####’s May 30, 2020, tweet and former President Trump’s tweet, respondent stated in a tweet: “They need to be shot.”
The Notice of Disciplinary Charges continues:
“On or about May 31, 2020, respondent posted a tweet addressed to JoeScarborough, a television commentator and co-host of the “Morning Joe” television program on MSNBC, that stated: “Omg Scarborough you’ve hit a new low in stupidity. Let’s go burn your house down with you in it.”
Brown, in her Response, denied all allegations, citing the First Amendment to the United States Constitution as an affirmative defense, stating that her comments do not constitute a threat, nor does it constitute fighting words or inciting violence. She further stated that her comments constitute an opinion, rhetoric, hyperbole, or other forms of protected speech.
A suspension or disbarment may be recommended after the State Bar Court determines whether or not the attorney has engaged in professional misconduct.
Thereafter, the state’s Supreme Court will then decide whether or not to impose the discipline recommended by the State Bar Court.
According to Brown’s personal website, she attended the Southwestern University in Los Angeles and has been admitted to the California State Bar in 1989.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.