Welcome! We would like you to join our community as we promote study of, and debate regarding, the professional responsibility of lawyers. Although our blog will serve as a resource for users of Professional Responsibility: A Contemporary Approach (2nd. ed 2013), the current developments, innovative teaching materials, and commentary should be thought-provoking and fun for all those interested in the legal profession. Please feel free to share your ideas and we will post as much as we can.
Legal Ethics Forum: A New Frontier for the Rules of Professional Conduct: Limited License Legal Technicians
by Andrew Perlman – Suffolk School of Law
On January 8, 2015, the Washington State Supreme Court adopted special rules of professional conduct to govern limited license legal technicians (LLLTs). The LLLT rules are closely analogous to the rules that govern lawyers, so there is nothing terribly new here substantively. But the very existence of professional conduct rules for a new class of legal professionals nicely illustrates why our traditional focus on the “law governing lawyers” has become too narrow. Our field might be more accurately described now as the “law of legal services.”
OTHERWISE: Prosecuting Prosecutors for Perjury? 9th Circuit Weighs In Concurring Opinions.
by Ronald K.L. Collins
“Writing in the New York Observer, Sidney Powell began his column this way: “What will it take to produce honest and ethical conduct from our state and federal prosecutors? The Ninth Circuit has a suggestion. Perhaps a perjury prosecution will do it. In fact, that is exactly what should happen when prosecutors affirmatively lie. This case, Baca v. Adams, involves a clear violation of the Supreme Court’s decision in Napue, which holds that prosecutors cannot put on perjured testimony, much less lie themselves. Unfortunately, as I’ve documented elsewhere, it happens far too often, when it should never happen at all.”
I urge readers to take a look at Mr. Powell’s column, which is both informative and powerful. Even more so is the video of the exchange between Judges Alex Kozinski, Kim McLane Wardlaw, William Fletcher and California Supervising Deputy Attorney General Kevin Vienna. Early on in his opening remarks (16 minutes into video), Mr, Vienna stated: “A number of things happened that should have not happened, and we’re not here to defend them.” But he defend them he did, albeit guardedly.
The rule of thumb in multiple actor crimes is that each defendant should have a separate lawyer. But sometime the band of brothers approach makes sense – financially and on the merits – for the defense. The challenge is to adequately describe the risks, and provide for representation after unbridgeable conflicts of interest appear.
Here Justice Shirley Kornreich finds that two companies jointly charge were adequately informed of the risks and consented to their lawyers’ continued representation of on client only.
Justice Kornreich finds the waiver was adequately informed and thatthe former joint represenation firm can conntinue representing on of the former jointly represented c-defendants.
OTHERWISE: Court Denies Disqualification Motion- sees issues clearly //Legal Ethics Forum.
The New York Supreme Court (New York County) denied a DQ motion filed after a joint defense representation fell apart. The joint rep letter was well written and contained lots of warnings and a good explanation of the consequences of a falling out. The court realized that granting the motion would effectively prevent clients from safely entering into joint defense agreements even when it helped the clients. All in all, a job well done by the trial court. Bonus: the New York court cited California’s Zador v. Kwan. (h/t: Law Firm Risk Management Blog)
OTHERWISE: PowerPoint Justice | The Marshall Project.
In addition to the cases discussed below the Washington Supreme Court in State v. Walker reverses a murder conviction based on prejudicial power point slides used in summation. A concurring opinion carefully analyses the prosecutor’s missteps. The court reverses on grounds of plain error because the defense attorney failed to object. – gwc
PowerPoint Justice | The Marshall Project
by Ken Armstrong
“In Washington state earlier this month, the state Supreme Court reversed a murder conviction based on shoddy work by the defense attorney who did not object to highly prejudicial elements of the prosecutor’s closing statement. The court also took the prosecutor to task for a PowerPoint presentation.The prosecutor had dressed up her closing argument to the jury with a series of slides, complete with “sound effects and animation,” the appellate court wrote.
Federal Judge Marcia Cooke has ordered the Miccosukee tribe and its lawyer Bernardo Roman III to be sanctioned for over $1 million. Roman, on behalf of the Tribe, had sued three prominent Miami attorneys for malpractice and fraud. According to Judge Cooke, the lawsuit had “no evidence or only patently frivolous evidence.” She ordered the payment of $975,750 in costs and fees to law partners Guy Lewis and Michael Tein, and an additional $95,640 to lawyer Dexter Lehtinen. She further sanctions Roman under Rule 11 and refers his case to the Florida Bar for further action.
The Miami Herald Article on the case can be found here.
The Judge’s Order can be viewed at: Miccosukee Tribe v Cypress Omnibus Order
Derrick Hamilton (after serving time for manslaughter) was convicted of murder on the testimony of a single eyewitness. He was released from prison after 20 years. He represented himself in the main. A now discredited detective developed the testimony of a witness who was found to be incredible. The Brooklyn Prosecutor found her testimony was inconsistent with medical and scientific evidence and that the witness was not credible.
What questions does this raise in your mind about the role of judges? Policemen? Public defenders? Prosecutors? The death penalty?