Slides for teaching “whether Sally Yates is subject to discipline” available below.
What Michael Bloomberg can teach Donald Trump about ethics | Newsday
by Bruce Green, Stein Center for Law & Ethics, Fordham Law School
THE BOTTOM LINE
President-elect Donald Trump campaigned on the promise to “drain the swamp” — to reduce the influence of lobbyists, wealthy donors, and special-interest groups. But this also should mean that public officials will not serve their own financial interests.
Despite Trump’s announced plan to transfer management of the Trump Organization to his sons Donald Jr. and Eric, the federal Office of Government Ethics is right that considerable questions persist about whether he’s doing enough to ensure he will not act for private profit. Trump heads a vast business empire, so how will he specifically avoid decisions — consciously or unconsciously — that promote his business interests over the public’s interest?
Potential conflicts can be averted by acting in conformity with traditional understandings and federal law — including statutes, regulations and the constitutional provision called the Emoluments Clause. These sound technical, but they boil down to some basic principles, chief among them being that public officials must act in the public’s interest, and avoid situations in which they would be tempted to do otherwise.
How can Trump allay the public’s concerns? It’s virtually impossible to give a complete answer without knowing the details of his privately held businesses: What are their assets? How do they make money? To whom do they owe money? With whom do they do business?
It’s clear where he can begin.
Trump should accept the authority of the federal Office of Government Ethics to oversee conflict-of-interest regulation for the executive branch. He should fully disclose his business interests, and then have his lawyers and accountants work with the office on a plan to avoid profiting from his decisions as president. That’s what presidents before him have done.
In August 2016 the American Bar Association adopted a revision to Rule 8.4 (g) on discrimination.
(g) engage in conduct that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know is harassment or discrimination harass or discriminate on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or socioeconomic status in conduct related to the practice of law. This Rule paragraph does not limit the ability of a lawyer to accept, decline or withdraw from a representation in accordance with Rule 1.16. This paragraph does not preclude legitimate advice or advocacy consistent with these Rules.
The key language is the addition of “knows or reasonably should know”.
Professor Alberto Bernabe reports that the Pennsylvania Disciplinary Board has recommended that the Commonwealth courts has recommended the state follow Illinois which has adopted this language:
“violate a federal, state or local statute or ordinance that prohibits discrimination based on race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status by conduct that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s fitness as a lawyer.” This is the same language that has been in Illinois Rule 8.4(j) since 2010.
As Bernabe observes the Illinois approach, though narrower, avoids the potential first amendment problems cited by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, as reported in ABA Journal.
by Michael Frisch
by Matthew Hamilton // Times Union
AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION STANDING COMMITTEE ON ETHICS AND PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY Formal Opinion 476 December 19, 2016 Confidentiality Issues when Moving to Withdraw for Nonpayment of Fees in Civil Litigation In moving to withdraw as counsel in a civil proceeding based on a client’s failure to pay fees, a lawyer must consider the duty of confidentiality under Rule 1.6 and seek to reconcile that duty with the court’s need for sufficient information upon which to rule on the motion. Similarly, in entertaining such a motion, a judge should consider the right of the movant’s client to confidentiality. This requires cooperation between lawyers and judges. If required by the court to support the motion with facts relating to the representation, a lawyer may, pursuant to Rule 1.6(b)(5), disclose only such confidential information as is reasonably necessary for the court to make an informed decision on the motion.
by Michael Frisch
The Connecticut Supreme Court has issued an opinion of significance that affirmed a reprimand for a Rule 1.15 violation and rejected a harsh presumptive sanction for intentional misappropriation
This disciplinary action originates from a twelve year old fee dispute that resulted in several actions and various appeals…