Thursday, April 7, 2022

George Floyd & The Duty To Report

After the murder conviction of George Floyd by former police officer Derek Chauvin, the three other former officers who were present were convicted on federal charges of violating Floyd's civil rights and will be tried in June on state charges of aiding and abetting the murder. 

Because Chauvin was the senior officer present many people feel the other officers should not have been charged as they were only "following orders". This is a similar defense used by many German soldiers under the Nazis and will likely be used by Russian soldiers who have committed war crimes in Ukraine.  

Although I am not completely unsympathetic to the situation the officers, other than Chauvin, were in, the fact remains they took an oath to uphold the law and protect the public.  There was no "except if the perpetrator was an officer" caveat to that oath. 

Likewise, officers of the court, which includes all lawyers, are obliged to abide by the Lawyers Rules of Professional Conduct which includes a duty to report clause. Specifically:

Rule 8.3 Reporting Professional Misconduct

(a) A lawyer who knows that another lawyer has committed a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct that raises a substantial question as to that lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects, shall inform the appropriate professional authority.

(b) A lawyer who knows that a judge has committed a violation of the applicable Code of Judicial Conduct that raises a substantial question as to the judge's fitness for office shall inform the appropriate authority.

(c) This rule does not require disclosure of information that Rule 1.6 requires or allows a lawyer to keep confidential or information gained by a lawyer or judge while participating in a lawyers assistance program or other program providing assistance, support, or counseling to lawyers who are chemically dependent or have mental disorders.

Yet, as far as I know, not a single lawyer or anyone else in the legal system who has read the evidence agaisnt Nellie Wince has reported her. Not one. Indeed I cannot find a single example in the state where a lawyer has reported another for lying in family court, a clear and egregious violation of the rules. It is just not how things work. Time to change that. 

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