Minnesota criminal defense lawyer John Arechigo has been named an Attorney of the Year by Minnesota Lawyer. John’s selection was based off the State v. Turner case, in which he successfully challenged the constitutionality of Minnesota’s former criminal defamation law.Isanti County charged Turner with criminal defamation stemming from an online post about two individuals. Recognizing that the Minnesota law infringed on First Amendment protected speech, John immediately challenged the constitutionality of the statute. The trial court judge denied the defense motions, ruling that the Minnesota law did not violate the First Amendment. Following Turner’s conviction, John appealed the judge’s ruling to the Minnesota Court of Appeals and successfully convinced the Court that the law was indeed unconstitutional. The Court of Appeals issued a decision finding the former Minnesota criminal defamation law unfairly punished free speech and declared the law unconstitutional.
For the 16th year, Attorney of the Year nominees were submitted by judges, bar groups, clients and attorneys, coming from diverse practice groups including criminal law, litigation, public service, intellectual property and in-house counsel. Once nominated, honorees were selected by Minnesota Lawyer’s outside panel of judges based on the following criteria: leadership in the profession, involvement in major cases, newsworthy events, excellence in corporate or transactional services and public service. Honorees will be profiled in Attorneys of the Year magazine and will be recognized at a dinner and awards program.
Following the Turner decision, John was invited to join Rep. John Lesch’s legislative working group. The working group has undertaken the task of writing a new law to curb the increased behavior of distributing private, intimate media online. John was asked to join to offer his advice on First Amendment limitations for the new law.