(Editor’s Note: This piece has been edited to include the rules regarding misconduct as stated by the Louisiana Bar Association)
The news of the murder of Baton Rouge civil rights icon Sadie Roberts-Joseph was met with both shock and sorrow by most of the community. Ms. Sadie was beloved by her community, well-known (and well-liked) by the Baton Rouge Police Department, and spent much of her life working to make the North Baton Rouge neighborhood where she lived a better, kinder place for children.
However, one Terrytown lawyer saw fit to use her murder as a joke following the announcement of her death.
“Did she lick the Bluebelle (sic)?” asked Dominick Savona, owner of Savona Law, LLC in Terrytown in a since-edited Facebook post.
When confronted by several locals informing him that his comment wasn’t funny, Savona blew them off. “Don’t get so sensitive,” he stated. “I just made a funny.”
Later, Savona took the opportunity to poke fun again.
“This murder in Baton Rouge has a real bad feel about it,” one Facebook poster said.
“That’s what you get when you hang out in car trunks,” Savona commented. This post has also since been edited.
Savona, in spite of being a member in good standing with the Louisiana Bar Association, has a history of making inflammatory posts publicly on social media.
“Somebody define a ‘Liberal’ is it like the ‘N’ word?”
Later, not only did Savona share an inflammatory article containing misinformation regarding the Muslim religion, he threatened retaliation.
The comments allegedly made by Professor Saud Saleh have not been confirmed by the news outlet who posted the headline. That fact didn’t seem to matter to Savona, who had no issue with threatening sexual violence against Muslims in return. “Yeah, get the lube, baby, we are going to give you a dose of your own medicine.”
Savona’s comments, though inflammatory, likely pass the Brandenburg test, which states that even inflammatory speech is protected unless:
- The speech is “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action,” AND
- The speech is “likely to incite or produce such action.”
Still, there is an argument to be made that inflammatory comments made by an officer of the courts could be seen as an “okay” towards violent behavior. For this reason, lawyers are often held to a higher standard than the average citizen. Furthermore, it is possible that his comments violate the Rules of Professional Conduct:
It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to:
(a) Violate or attempt to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct, knowingly assist or
induce another to do so, or do so through the acts of another;
(b) Commit a criminal act especially one that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty,
trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects;
(c) Engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation;
(d) Engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice;
(e) State or imply an ability to influence improperly a judge, judicial officer, governmental
agency or official or to achieve results by means that violate the Rules of Professional
Conduct or other law;
(f) Knowingly assist a judge or judicial officer in conduct that is a violation of applicable
Rules of Judicial Conduct or other law; or
(g) Threaten to present criminal or disciplinary charges solely to obtain an advantage in a
Professor Saleh’s comments were not verified. By spreading potentially false information, it could be argued that Savona engaged in conduct involving dishonesty or misrepresentation. By poking fun at what was then a murder under active investigation, Savona could be seen in engaging in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice.
Whether any action is taken will depend on the Lousiana Bar Association (Big Easy Magazine has received word that a complaint has been filed).
One can only hope they’ll see fit to take action, rather than let an open white supremacist continue to operate a law practice in Louisiana.