Submissions and nominations of articles are being accepted for the twelfth annual Fred C. Zacharias Memorial Prize for Scholarship in Professional Responsibility. To honor Fred’s memory, the committee will select from among articles in the field of Professional Responsibility with a publication date of 2021. The prize will be awarded at the 2022 AALS Annual Meeting. Please send submissions and nominations to Professor Samuel Levine at Touro Law Center: firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for submissions and nominations is September 1, 2021.
Via a form letter the D.C. Bar Office of Disciplinary Counsel informed the lawyers – including four former D.C. Bar Presidents that it would not investigate the actions of former Attorney General William Barr. The gravamen of the charges filed is stated concisely by former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger in a post on Just Security. The charges are that in his service to the President rather than the country Barr should be sanctioned
Asserting that the complainants lacked “personal knowledge” the Office of Disciplinary Counsel said it does not “intervene in matters that are being discussed on the national political scene.
Below is a press release by Lawyers Defending Democracy
WASHINGTON, DC – Four former presidents of the DC Bar and twenty-three other distinguished DC Bar members today renewed their 2020 call to the DC Bar’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel to investigate and take disciplinary action against former Attorney General William P. Barr.
, confirming that Attorney Barr and the Department of Justice under his leadership misled Congress and the public about the findings of the Mueller report.
The arguments filed today serve as a supplement to the comprehensive and detailed 37-page ethics complaint the group submitted against the former U.S. Attorney General in July 2020.
In Count I of the original complaint, the signers analyzed the ethical rules violated by Mr. Barr’s communications to Congress and the public concerning the Mueller report. Judge Jackson’s decision, the authors state, confirm the core allegation that, in absolving former President Trump of criminal liability for obstructing justice upon receiving the Mueller Report last year, Mr. Barr repeatedly engaged in dishonest and deceitful conduct. This latest rebuke of Mr. Barr follows similar conclusions reached by Judge Reggie Walton in another case last year.
The original complaint is believed to be the first time that former DC Bar Presidents and other bar leaders have ever united to file an ethics complaint against an Attorney General.
Andrea Ferster, a former DC Bar President and a signer, stated:
“When it is the country’s chief law enforcement official whose conduct two federal judges independently describe as ‘misleading,’ ‘distorted,’ ‘disingenuous’ and ‘lacking in candor,’ the integrity of the legal profession requires holding him accountable.”
Gershon (Gary) Ratner, the lead signer, co-founder of Lawyers Defending American Democracy and a former HUD Associate General Counsel for Litigation, continues:
“When lawyers’ gross ethical misconduct goes undisciplined, we give permission for others to do the same. As a self-regulating profession, we lawyers must show the public that this is not how lawyers of any kind, much less those in positions of power, may behave.”
In urging the Bar to take action, the submission today concludes:
“The evidence here establishes that the highest law enforcement officer of the country misled the Congress and the public by blatant and cynical misuse of his office. . . . [T]he abuse of office by Mr. Barr and his subordinates is a critical test of the legal profession’s ability to regulate itself. If Mr. Barr’s misconduct is ignored or otherwise swept under the rug, the public may justly conclude that the powerful and connected are above the law.”
Today’s supplemental letter is being filed with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, District of Columbia Court of Appeals. The letter is published by Lawyers Defending American Democracy and can be viewed online here.
The astute former prosecutor who tweets as @legalnerd observes that there are serious issues to be raised on appeal. Prominent among them, in my mind, are the refusal to move the trial from Minneapolis where jurors might feel pressured by the prospect of riots or social disapproval whether they acquitted or convicted; prejudicial publicity via the publicly announced $27 million settlement of civil claims by George Floyd’s family. Such arguments are not frivolous. They will fuel those unwilling to accept the conviction as just.- GWC
California State Bar declares RPC 1.1 duty of tech competence, expands RPC 5.4 non-profit fee sharing rules Rule 1.1 addresses a lawyer duty of technical competence, and 5.4 declares that attorneys fees from a settlement – not simply court-awarded fees – may be shared with a non-profit….
Contrary to several other states, the New Jersey Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics holds that a lawyer who “cc’s” a client impliedly consents to his/her client receiving any replies directly. – GWC
She spent seven years and much of her retirement savings to prove that a teenager had been wrongly convicted of murder.
Priscilla Read Chenoweth was the most widely read lawyer in New Jersey for many years. Her weekly precis of new decisions made the New Jersey Law Journal essential reading. But she was also an impassioned advocate. A passion she passed on to her daughter Lesley who, with her husband Michael Risinger leads Seton Hall’s Last Resort exoneration project. – gwc
Meet The Voting Rights Heavy-Hitters That Biden Has Picked To Lead DOJ | Talking Points Memo By Tierney Sneed – February 25, 2021 President …
By Tierney Sneed – February 25, 2021
President Biden has chosen for top positions at the Justice Department three advocates who have spent their lifetimes in the civil rights arena and the last four years in particular combatting the Trump-era’s most egregious assaults on democracy.
When then-President Trump put forward judicial nominees who had shown hostility to voting rights, Vanita Gupta organized the civil rights community pushback that helped sink the confirmations of at least two of them.
When the administration stood up a sketchy “election integrity” commission to validate Trump’s false voter fraud claims, Kristen Clarke spearheaded one of the early legal challenges that contributed to the panel’s eventual demise.
And when Trump hijacked the U.S. foreign policy apparatus to smear his 2020 presidential opponent, Pamela Karlan testified in House impeachment proceedings about the implications that gambit had for democracy.
Now all three have been selected for key DOJ positions from which they can revitalize the department’s role in the voting rights space — at a time when the threats to democratic participation are historically daunting.
The rhetoric of judicial impartiality, of non-partisanship, of separation of powers dominates the language of judges – and of lawyers and acolytes in the media….
Chafetz’s forthcoming Strategies of Judicial Aggrandizement is a rare treatment of the courts the way others are treated. We are accustomed to the charge that bureaucracies try to increase their power, that legislatures overreach, and that Presidents tend toward the imperial (thank you Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.). But rarely does “judicial aggrandizement” get any attention.
We have arrived at a time of reflection. When Barack Obama was elected we felt, just perhaps, we have moved decisively toward that promised…
NAACP LDF President Sherrilyn A. Ifill looks to South Africa’s Truth & Reconciliation Commission as a model for use to follow – to look at our profession’s failures. – GWC
The Arizona Supreme Court – effective January 1 – has authorized non-lawyer ownership of law firms and other “Alternative Business Structures” including licensed paraprofessionals who can complete forms and represent clients.
The ABA Journal reports that Arizona Vice Chief Justice played a key role with David Byers of the state Administrative Office of the Courts in examining how legal services are delivered. The task force of the Arizona Supreme Court reported in October 2019: It recommended that the Court
Eliminate Arizona’s ERs 5.4 and 5.7 and amend ERs 1.0 through 5.3 to remove the explicit barrier to lawyers and nonlawyers co-owning businesses that engage in the practice of law while preserving the dual goals of ensuring the professional independence of lawyers and protecting the public.
The New Jersey Supreme Court recently ruled that a lawyer may provide for mandatory arbitration even of malpractice claims – in its retainer agreement. But it must explain to its client the advantages and disadvantages of the choice. The court referred the issue to is Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics – on which I serve, as I do on the amicus committee of the State Bar, and the Editorial Board of the New Jersey Law Journal half of whose members recused because they are involved one way or another in the issue which is a truly hot button issue in the New Jersey Bar.
The Law Journal Editorial Board calls for independent representation of clients in such matters. The ACPE has solicited comments from the Bar. It may be a bumpy ride. Published Opinions of the ACPE are binding – but subject to discretionary review by the Court itself.
“We believe that requiring a prospective client, not independently represented, to give up the right to choose the forum of dispute resolution at the outset of a relationship is detrimental to the client’s interest and should be banned. If, and when, a dispute arises between lawyer and client, the respective parties may agree that it is in their individual interest that the dispute be arbitrated rather than fought in court. Presumably, at that time, the client will have secured new counsel who can, independently, advise the client of the wisdom of resolving the dispute in one forum or another.
We cannot conceive of a lawyer independently consulted by a client about the wisdom of signing a mandatory arbitration clause advising that client to forfeit the choice of forum for dispute resolution at the outset of a representation. Some courts require a client to get independent advice before agreeing to mandatory arbitration in a retainer agreement. Others ban it outright. The ABA allows such a provision provided “the advantages and disadvantages are discussed.”
New York Supreme Court Appellate Division First Department It began with the New York State Bar Association announcing an inquiry into wh…
It began with the New York State Bar Association announcing an inquiry into whether it should expel the former United States Attorney, Mayor of New York, and personal counsel to a President Rudy Giuliani. The Trump confidant had fallen into disrepute as he played a role in the sixty failed lawsuits brought by the Trump campaign to somehow undermine the results of an election which the sitting lost by over seven million votes. The movement gained momentum and gravity after the former prosecutor at the now notorious January 6 White House rally warmed up the soon to be riotous mob by declaring ““Let’s have trial by combat.””
Donald Trump’s narrow margins in a handful of states presented a theoretical path to snatch an electoral college victory from a popular vote defeat. Giuliani was coordinator of unsuccessful electoral challenges in a dozen states, according to Democracy Docket which itself coordinated Democratic Party defenses. Things quickly went badly for Giuliani;s efforts as even conservative judges spurned the efforts to discount votes. In a key state – Pennsylvania District Judge Matthew Brann, a former GOP official, repudiated the action saying
…this Court has been presented with strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations, unpled in the operative complaint and unsupported by evidence. In the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state. Our people, laws, and institutions demand more.
Brann was quickly affirmed by a conservative panel of the Third Circuit which wrote “Voters, not lawyers, choose the President. Ballots, not briefs, decide elections.”
Criticism mounted but it was the January 6 rally which pushed things off a cliff. Two carefully crafted and detailed letters to New York disciplinary authorities in the First Department of the Appellate Division of New York Supreme Court have demanded action against Giuliani. The first was filed by former Massachusetts Attorney General and Common Cause President Scott Harshberger on behalf of Lawyers Defending American Democracy, Inc. The LDAD complaint, co-signed by dozens of prominent lawyers, former prosecutors and judges has now garnered over 4,000 signatures. Citing factually and legally groundless litigation to invalidate millions of votes Harshberger et al. call for Giuliani to be suspended while the “Committee… investigates”.
Another complaint, filed the next day by Ronald C. Minkoff, of New York, and co-signed by dozens of prominent lawyers and academics, is brought on behalf of Michael Miller, a past President of both the New York State Bar Association and the New York County Lawyers Association. The carefully drafted and comprehensive complaint centers on the Pennsylvania action and the January 6 “attempted insurrection”. It calls for unspecified discipline against Giuliani, a New York attorney for KEEP READING:
The California State Bar has solicited comment on its proposed Formal Opinion No. 17-0003 regarding duties of confidentiality to and avoidance of conflicts of interest to prospective clients. The deadline for comment is March 22, 2021. – gwc
Any discussion of Deborah Rhode’s work and impact inevitably is a flood of superlatives. We are fortunate that Clay Risen of the New York Times took the time to tell the story of a woman who was a powerful debater, teacher, writer, and thinker. A high school classmate of Merrick Garland, the Biden-Harris administration will unfortunately be unable to turn to her for the passion and powerful intellect and integrity she brought to her work in legal ethics. The field was little heeded until the Watergate debacle put prominent lawyers like White House counsel John Dean in the dock, and Attorney General John Mitchell in jail.
By Clay Risen
A lawyer may request that the host of the website or search engine remove the post. This may be particularly effective if the post was made by someone other than a client. If the post was made by someone pretending to be a client, but who is not, the lawyer may inform the host of the website or search engine of that fact. In making a request to remove the post, unless the client consents to disclosure, the lawyer may not disclose any information that relates to a client’s representation or that could reasonably lead to the discovery of confidential information by another, but may state that the post is not accurate or that the lawyer has not represented the poster if that is the case.
By Susan DeSantis
The New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) strongly condemned the violent uprising that occurred at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, orchestrated by individuals bent on subverting the will of the voters by disrupting the certification of the 2020 presidential election results.
Thankfully, Congress overcame this assault and fulfilled its constitutional responsibility in certifying the Biden-Harris victory. However, we must address the root cause of this abhorrent incident, the blame for which lies first and foremost with President Donald Trump.
But the president did not act alone. Hours before the angry mob stormed the Capitol walls, Trump’s personal attorney, Rudolph Giuliani, addressed a crowd of thousands at the White House, reiterating baseless claims of widespread election fraud in the presidential election and the Georgia U.S. Senate runoffs.
“If we’re wrong, we will be made fools of, but if we’re right a lot of them will go to jail,” Mr. Giuliani said. “Let’s have trial by combat.”
The New Jersey Law Journal Editorial Board today calls for impeachment of Donald Trump and for incoming A.G. Merrick Garland to “relentlessly investigate and prosecute” those responsible for the near catastrophe at the Capitol on January 6.
Disclosure: I am a member of the Board