Ten of the 11 lawsuits have been dismissed with prejudice. So the Supreme Court's decision last week to reprimand Tallahassee lawyer Doug Lyons, at least as to how it directly affects Buchanan, is an exclamation point on the conclusion that Lyons and his clients didn't have a case.
Investigators with the Florida Bar concluded that Lyons tried to extort $43 million from Buchanan in order to settle the first of the lawsuits and to stop the filing of the subsequent cases in the weeks and months leading up to the 2008 election. Lyons denied the extortion claim, but he agreed to plead guilty because the Bar complaint also included an allegation that his law firm had mailed solicitations to some of Buchanan's former customers without the proper disclaimer -- which Lyons admitted was true.
A House Ethics Committee investigation of Buchanan may still be forthcoming. But the Supreme Court ruling, along with the Federal Elections Commission closing an investigation that in part was borne from the Lyons lawsuits, may help Buchanan clear the decks as he prepares for a re-election campaign in which the presumptive Democratic nominee, Keith Fitzgerald, already has tried to gain traction with criticisms of Buchanan's honesty and ethics.
Unwittingly, the Florida Supreme Court last week came to Buchanan's defense.
Read more about the Supreme Court decision, including a "referee's" report on the Bar complaint, here.