John Morgan, trial lawyer bigwig of Morgan & Morgan fame, is real close to quitting the Florida Justice Association (the lobby group for Florida trial lawyers) because of its admitted involvement in the recent distribution of a racially charged campaign flier.
But after urging from Morgan & Morgan attorney and black caucus member Rep. Darryl Rouson, Morgan told the Times/Herald he has agreed to hold off his decision until the conclusion of an investigation being conducted by former Supreme Court justice Gerald Kogan.
"The key for me is, did anyone in our organization see that piece before it went out? If they did they should have been raising holy hell, they should have called a press conference to denounce it," Morgan said. "I want to know, did someone in our organization, in the fever to win, give up all that we stand for and all of our principles?"
"If that‘s the case, I’m out," said Morgan, a member of the trial bar group since 1983. "And I’ll tell you, I am predisposed to leave right now.”
He pointed out that Morgan & Morgan is the largest personal injury firm in the state, with a large membership in the Justice Association. His exit would likely prompt the exit of others from the firm.
Kogan, retired and living in Miami, has been asked by the trial lawyers lobby group to determine who in the Justice Association approved the financing and content of the flier sent out to 88,000 homes by the similarly named 527 Conservative Citizens for Justice.
"It has to be independent, it has to be thorough, it has to be transparent, and it has to be fast,” Morgan said of Kogan's inquiry.
The flier was one of many negative campaign pieces in the Jacksonville-area special election pitting former House Speaker John Thrasher against businessman Dan Quiggle for state Senate. Thrasher won. Conservative Citizens paid nearly $69,000 for the mailer, but Morgan said it appears the money came from the Justice Association.
"I want to know who in our group transferred the money to this other group where we had no control, no vetting," he said.
Scott Carruthers, executive director of the trial bar group, said last week that leaders had no knowledge of the flier, but he took "full responsibility for not having done everything to stop that piece from going out."