Anti-vaccination attorney to lose license for professional misconduct?
Hi again reader. I never thought I’d say this with a straight face, but you might want to check out this article on “Natural News” (9). Why would I recommend such a terrifyingly misleading website to my loyal reader? Well, because as we saw with Infowars, these are the only places where we can discover information about Ms. Finn’s case, which I first blogged about yesterday (see below). What caught my eye today is that the author of the article states that “…I saw and read the documents that contain the charges being leveled against her”. This is more than any of us can do at this point, since these documents are not available to the public. But let’s get to the interesting part. The author of the NN article says that the Grievance Committee states that Ms. Finn is “threatening the public interest” with her “anti-vaccine advocacy efforts” (9), which I touched on in the post below. Now, here again I have to state that I have not personally seen these documents as they are not public. But if this is true, I have only this to say to the Grievance Committee: Rock on with your bad selves.
If you are not quietly weeping after perusing the first part of the article over at Natural News, you may want to stop reading RIGHT NOW. Why? Because according to Natural News, the obvious next step in the Finn case is the kidnapping and sale of children into sex slavery (9). No, really! That is what it says. The idea is the following: The court will get the names of Ms. Finn’s’ clients who refuse to vaccinate. Child Protective Services (CPS) will then take the children away from these clients. And because, according to Natural News, CPS is a front for a child sex slavery ring, well, you can see where this is going. Given this second part of this story, I really hesitate to link my reader to this type of trash. Please take the allegations that Ms. Finn is “threatening the public interest” with a grain of salt for now, until we get a more reliable source.
My original post:
Hi Reader. Today we are going to talk about the curious case of Patricia Finn, Esq. I must first begin this post by clearly stating that I am not an attorney, don’t pretend to be an attorney, and that the sum total of my exposure to the legal system comes from the family of Law & Orders [doink doink]. My sister-in-law is a bona-fide attorney and tells me not to base any legal opinions on that show. Being as that she is both a partner in her law firm and a terrifying intelligent person, I’m gonna go ahead and state pretty clearly that I do not have any expertise in the law. Regardless, I find this story compelling and as such will report it to my faithful reader based on facts I’ve been able to find about the case. It should also be noted that I spent a fair bit of time searching for the actual complaint against Ms. Finn so as to report accurately on the charges, but apparently this is NOT public information. Therefore, at this time we can only rely upon Ms. Finn’s reporting of the following events.
The story begins late last week, when this post appeared on Patricia Finn’s Facebook page (1):
Needless to say, this prompted a fair bit of curiosity on my part. Who is this Patricia Finn and why does she compare herself to Andrew Wakefield, a man exposed for professional fraud? Why has she been served with papers to suspend her law license? Is it all a conspiracy by The Man to attack anyone involved in the anti-vaccination movement? To be honest, this is all very mysterious so far. But perhaps it will help my reader to get to know Ms. Finn a bit better.
Patricia Finn bills herself as an attorney who specializes in first amendment protections as they relate to people who try to obtain religious exemptions from state vaccination laws (2). She also represents “vaccine-injured” children. In fact, she was the attorney of record for a few relatively high-profile vaccine cases, including a losing case in West Virginia involving a parent seeking a religious exemption for her child (3). She was also involved in a lawsuit related to the mandate of H1N1 vaccine for healthcare workers in New York which was initiated in 2009 (4). I would like to point out that in my opinion, there is absolutely nothing wrong with Ms. Finn practicing this type of law. In fact, although I am completely opposed to her position regarding vaccination, I support her right to employ legal means for achieving her aims. This is a far better strategy for anti-vaxxers than, say, threatening to lynch scientists and healthcare practitioners (5).
However, of late it appears that Ms. Finn has also framed herself as an anti-vaccination activist. Last week, she was the keynote speaker at a rally in West Virginia that was organized to promote legislation of a religious vaccination exemption in the state (6), which currently only allows for medical exemptions. If you watch the video, you will notice the following: a) that from the sounds of things, only about 20 people showed up for her address; and b) that Ms. Finn makes a number of blatantly unsupported claims about vaccinations. These include the assertion that vaccinations consist of the ”injection of diseases” and that there are an assortment of “injuries” caused by vaccinations, including autism. She also gets in a few plugs for her law office.
Why is all of this important to the charges against Ms. Finn? Well, because as you can see above, she is framing this as a witch hunt against anti-vaccinators. But what is she really charged with, and by whom? The first information on exactly what was being alleged was posted on Sherri Tenpenny’s Facebook page, and indicated that, in a message allegedly written by Ms. Finn herself, Ms. Finn has been charged by the Ninth Judicial District Grievance Committee of New York State of false advertising and professional misconduct. While I cannot verify this source, the information provided in the Facebook post below is backed up by an interview that Ms. Finn herself allegedly did with Infowars, which I discuss more below.
While I find myself in the awful position of again linking my innocent reader to Infowars (7), I must do so because it appears that thus far this is the only media outlet that is at all interested in Ms. Finn’s story, and as such is the only source material that allegedly came directly from her. Although in her Facebook post above Ms. Finn seems to think that New York is demanding the list of names of her clients who refuse to vaccinate so they can persecute them, in fact it appears that they may be requesting the records in order to confirm whether the statements on her webpage adequately represent the truth of her experience. This is explicitly stated in the Infowars article, which was a piece favorable to Ms. Finn and for which she was allegedly interviewed.
Regarding the potential issues with advertising, the Rules of Professional Conduct for New York (8) state the following, which may or may not be of interest in this case.
Page 31. “A lawyer or law firm shall not use or disseminate or participate in the use or dissemination of any advertisement contains statements or claims that are false, deceptive or misleading”.
While I personally doubt that the Grievance Committee was thinking of this specifically, Ms. Finn’s webpage (2) includes the following statement on where one can go to find “more information” about vaccines:
The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) advocates vaccine safety and consumer awareness. The NVIC website states that the “NVIC does not promote the use of vaccines and does not advise against the use of vaccines.”
My reader is already aware that the NVIC is most definitely NOT a good source for further information about vaccines and that it may be considered “misleading”, “false”, or “deceptive” to claim that NVIC does not advise against the use of vaccines. Ms. Finn’s webpage goes on to state that, “Literature on vaccines is plentiful and it is hard to find neutral information”. No, it’s not hard at all. In fact, all one would need to do is log onto the CDC website.
However, I cannot help but wonder if the real problem the Grievance Committee has is with the statements on Ms. Finn’s homepage, which includes a link to her several “precedent setting cases” related to vaccine lawsuits. The problem here is that the link is a bridge to nowhere. This may be where the request for information on prior clients came from.
Ms. Finn is obviously taking legal steps to fight these charges. However, she is also taking the route of rallying her anti-vaccination troops to call the media on her behalf. As many posters on her Facebook wall pointed out, it is difficult to contact the media for her when nobody is really sure what is going on. It’s all rather vague at this point. It is of interest to note, however, that thus far it is only Ms. Finn who is framing this as an anti-vaccination persecution issue. This strategy is a tried-and-true method in the world of anti-vaxxers who are charged with doing naughty things. The idea is to divert attention from the actual charges by emitting a smokescreen of insinuations that the person is being investigated because they dare to question vaccinations, not because of any wrongdoing. Thus in some ways, this is indeed representative of a “Wakefield Effect”. For example, sensing publicity, even the infamous Meryl Dorey popped over to Ms. Finn’s page to crow about her alleged (and totally misconstrued) legal “victory” and to offer her support and help. We’ve seen this before, reader, and we’ll see it again.
I will keep my reader posted on how this develops. I must reiterate however that it is my understanding that these charges and any subsequent investigation are completely confidential. Therefore, at this stage, the source document for this information is unavailable to me, you, and everyone else other than Ms. Finn and the Grievance Committee. This means we must rely upon what Ms. Finn herself states in the media for our information. Ironically, what this also means is that much like the Patriot Nurse, if Ms. Finn had said not a word, it is unlikely that anyone would ever have known about these charges at this point. Ah well, cat’s outta the bag now.