A Lawyer's St Patrick's Day

Beer4LeafCloverSt. Patrick’s Day is a holiday celebrating the life of one man and all things Irish.

I had the good fortune a few years ago to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago, with a front row seat to seeing the river dyed green.

Sadly, the way some people celebrate ignores the real meaning of St. Patrick’s Day.

Instead, the celebrations keep many defense attorneys busy with new clients from irresponsible behavior.

By the nature of the adversarial system, District Attorneys in criminal cases and Plaintiff attorneys in civil ones may also find themselves with new cases. The Judges do not end up finding a four leaf clover under any circumstances.

Let’s review cases involving St. Patrick’s Day and leprechauns in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.

IrishParadeHatAs a preliminary matter, if a city aids a St. Patrick’s Day Parade, would that violate the First Amendment’s prohibition on establishing a religion?

No, as one Court explained, “aid by the city of New Haven to the St. Patrick’s Day parade is not an establishment of religion because, even though the practice of honoring St. Patrick may be rooted in religious belief, a parade named after him is not necessarily religious and has possibly ‘evolved into a secular celebration by Irish-Americans and their friends.’Commack Self-Service Kosher Meats, Inc. v. Hooker, 680 F.3d 194, 206 (2d Cir. N.Y. 2012), citing Curran v. Lee, 484 F.2d 1348, 1349-50 (2d Cir. 1973) (Emphasis added).

The next legal issue is why do people want to hold a parade to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. One Court explained the meaning of parades and the First Amendment:

The tradition of a parade as a public event means that a street march commands our attention in a way that a sidewalk procession does not. As a community, we look forward to parades, we are attentive to them, and we interrupt our everyday lives to accommodate them. A parade is a significant community event — whether its purpose is to recognize Irish heritage on St. Patrick’s Day, to celebrate a sports championship, or to express gratitude to soldiers on Veterans Day. A marcher confined to the sidewalk is thus denied the public forum that we historically have used to express our collective sentiment. See Timothy Zick, Space, Place, and Speech: The Expressive Topography, 74 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 439, 460 (2006) (hereinafter “Zick”) (“In terms of communicative behavior, place is as critical