Tuesday, January 16, 2024

California Adopts Duty To Report Rule For Lawyers

Unlike most states California never adopted the The American Bar Association model Rule of Professional Conduct which requires lawyers to report serious misconduct of another lawyer.

Now they have

Effective August 1, 2023, Rule 8.3 requires:

A lawyer shall, without undue delay, inform the State Bar, or a tribunal* with jurisdiction to investigate or act upon such misconduct, when the lawyer knows* of credible evidence that another lawyer has committed a criminal act or has engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud,* deceit, or reckless or intentional misrepresentation or misappropriation of funds or property that raises a substantial* question as to that lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects.

Why did California finally adopt Rule 8.3? Mostly because of one lawyer - Thomas Girardi.  Over a 40 year period Girardi had over 200 complaints filed agaisnt him yet he continued to practice law. Many of his fellow lawyers knew how corrupt Girardi was, and some had substantial evidence, yet failed to say anything. 

The real question is whether the now in effect Rule 8.3 will change anything. I suspect not. In Minnesota we have had this rule since it came out in 1983 yet not a single lawyer has ever been disciplined for not reporting another lawyer who they knew had committed serious misconduct.  

In my case, every lawyer, including the judges, who saw the evidence against Nelly Wince should have reported her. Indeed, they were, and still are, obligated to do so. Yet not a single one did. 

The rule, at least in practice, is for show. It fools the public into thinking lawyers are able to police themselves. The reality is quite the opposite.  

No comments:

Post a Comment