Ethics and the Courts

The Practice of Law and Ethics

Lawyers and Ethical Dilemmas

n      Justice versus Efficiency is a constant issue in the practice of criminal law.

n      How far does the concept of “pure legal advocate” permit you to proceed and still be ethical?

    Abstract of Chapter 9 (Elliot D. Cohen).

The Pure Legal Advocate

n      The sole goal of the legal advocate is to best present his client’s case. 

n      Required to do some things in behalf of his client that many may think are morally objectionable.

n      Often are called rule utilitarians, believe that the objectionable behavior sometimes done is the price one pays to maintain the adversary system.

Moral Shortcomings of the Pure Legal Advocate

n      Will fall short of being a just person if justice is not done and they participated.

n      Will fail the truthfulness test if their advocacy carries them into the realm of false presentations.

n      As for moral courage, if morality takes a back seat to the advocacy then lacks moral courage.

Moral Shortcomings of the Pure Legal Advocate

n      Liberality is also sacrificed when the attorney is unconcerned with the purposes for which they have been hired.

n      Benevolence is lost when in defense of client innocent people are injured.

n      Trustworthiness: generally not a problem for the pure legal advocate model.

n      Moral autonomy, the pure legal advocate has very little moral autonomy.

The Pure Legal Advocate:
Some End Notes

n      Can serve only to bring disrespect upon the Legal profession and the legal system.

n      Can influence citizens to abandon the adversary system.

n      May be at the heart of a great deal of the dissatisfaction voiced today against the legal profession.

The Moral Agent Concept

n      The framework of the adversary system provides the first set of guidelines for a lawyer’s conduct.

n      The moral agent legally and morally advocates his client’s case, not only a good legal technician but also behaves morally.

The Moral Agent

n      Treats others as ends in themselves, not just as a means to an end.

n      Treats clients and other professional relations similar when warranted.

n      Does not engage in behavior to deceive the court.

n      Willing to make personal sacrifices of time and personal resources when needed.

Moral Agent, Continued...

n      Does not give or accept money from clients for wrongful purposes or in wrongful amounts

n      Avoid harming others in protecting client.

n      Be loyal to client and not betray confidences.

n      Make their own moral decisions and act upon them.

The ABA Code of Ethics

n      The ABA Code of Ethics has taken some ethical principles and have effectively given them the force of law…

n  Shall not threaten criminal charges in order to gain advantage in a civil action.

n  Shall not use the secret of a client to advantage to oneself.

n  Lawyer who holds public officer should not try to influence a tribunal in behalf of their client or themselves.

The ABA Code of Ethics

n      A Lawyer shall not continue multiple employment where the interests of his clients conflict.

n      In representation of a client shall not conceal or fail to disclose what is required.  Cannot knowingly use perjured testimony.

n      Lawyer who knows that his client has defrauded the person or tribunal must call on his client to rectify the situation.

The ABA Code of Ethics

n      A Lawyer should not decline to represent a client because they are unpopular.

n      Provide free legal services to the poor.

n      Should not collect an unreasonable fee.

n      Should not pay a witness contingent upon their testimony or outcome of the case.

n      In his representation of a client should not file suit or harass in other ways when this action is meant merely to harass.

The ABA Code of Ethics

n      Treat with consideration all persons involved the process.

n      Shall not knowingly reveal a secret of a client except within certain limited areas.

n      Shall not intentionally fail to seek the lawful objectives of his clients through reasonably available means.

n      Avoid offensive tactics, be punctual and treating with courtesy all individuals.

ABA Code of Ethics: Often Conflicting Duties

n      One ethic often conflicts with another.

n      ABA Code still evolving.  It still has a way to go.

n      The triangular conflict:  responsibility to client, legal system and one’s own moral values.