Florida Record

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Suspended Fort Lauderdale lawyer claims constitutional protections for her online attacks


By Karen Kidd | Apr 1, 2019

General court 09

TALLAHASSEE — Fort Lauderdale attorney Ashley Ann Krapacs, on emergency suspension following a Florida Supreme Court order in February over allegations she harassed opposing counsel and a judge on social media, alleges her actions enjoy constitutional protections.

In her March 18 response to The Florida Bar's petition for emergency suspension, granted by the state Supreme Court on Feb. 27, Krapacs argues the bar "cannot establish, by clear and convincing evidence" that the social media posts amounted to professional misconduct. Referring to herself as "respondent," Krapacs also cited freedoms of expression and association that she says protect the social media posts that the state bar quoted in its lengthy petition.

"The respondent is charged with zealously representing and defending her clients [including, her pro se representation]," Krapacs said in her response. "The respondent is not guilty of any of the aggravating factors which the referee is charged to consider and address."

Krapacs' suspension was handed down less than three years after she was admitted to the bar in Florida in April 2016. Two of the court's seven justices said they would have denied the state bar's petition.

The court also appointed a referee to try the case.

"Krapacs engaged in an escalating harassment campaign against two attorneys representing the opposing party in a civil matter, as well as disparaging a circuit court judge," the state bar said in its March 29 announcement of the discipline and the Supreme Court's order. "Because of her social media attacks and threatening behavior, one attorney obtained an injunction for protection against stalking against her and the other filed a defamation lawsuit against her."

Krapacs' "attack of massive and continuous proportions" on social media was launched under the "misguided belief that the First Amendment shields her from scrutiny and prosecution by The Florida Bar for egregious misconduct," the state bar said in its petition.

The state bar's 32-page petition, in addition to about 250 pages of exhibits and supporting documentation, described online attacks against attorneys hired by a former boyfriend in Texas and a judge.

Krapacs' posts on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube referred to opposing counsel as an "old white male attorney" and a "bully attorney", used the hashtag "#holymisogyny" and accused the judge of belonging to the "Old Boys Club," the petition said.

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