From The Sally Yates Misinformation Files: Senator Diane Feinstein, Ethics Dunce And Incompetent Elected Official Of the Month

Biased, hypocritical and ignorant is no way to go through life, Senator...

Biased, hypocritical and ignorant is no way to go through life, Senator…

Adding to the ignorance and misinformation drowning ethics comprehension regarding the Sally Yates affair, Sen. Feinstein used her questioning of Attorney General designate Jeff Sessions this morning to misrepresent the ethical duty of that office. (I don’t have a link yet, since I just watched it on C-Span.)

First, Democratic Senator Feinstein set some kind of modern political record for gall by asking Sessions for assurances that he would objectively and independently represent the justice system and the people, and not be a “political arm of the White House.” A political arm of the White House (and the Democratic Party) is exactly what Eric Holder’s and Loretta Lynch’s Justice Department were, and the Senator knows it and never raised her voice in opposition to it for eight years! The question is a fair one, but she is estopped from asking it. Indeed, for any Democratic Senator to ask that question is tantamount to deceit, suggesting that the previous Justice Department met the standard Feinstein is demanding that Sessions acknowledge.

This is the unethical double standard mindset that Democrats have been displaying since November 8.

Following that master class in hypocrisy, Feinstein lauded the justly fired Sally Yates for embodying that ideal. Feinstein is ignorant of what lawyers do and the ethical principles their profession obligates them to follow, apparently. Continue reading

More On The Unethical Sally Yates: Her Conflict Of Interest Deception

...and you shouldn't have accepted the job, either.

…and you shouldn’t have accepted the job, either.

Here is another ethics aspect of the disgraceful Sally Yates episode that the complicit news media isn’t covering: it was unethical for her to accept the job of acting Attorney General in the first place.

She had an apparent conflict of interest when she was offered the job. This is indisputable; it’s just being ignored by fawning partisans. Here is the applicable ethics rule of Yates’ bar and jurisdiction:

Rule 1.7–Conflict of Interest: General Rule

(a) A lawyer shall not advance two or more adverse positions in the same matter.

(b) Except as permitted by paragraph (c) below, a lawyer shall not represent a client with respect to a matter if:

(1) That matter involves a specific party or parties and a position to be taken by that client in that matter is adverse to a position taken or to be taken by another client in the same matter even though that client is unrepresented or represented by a different lawyer;

(2) Such representation will be or is likely to be adversely affected by representation of another client;

(3) Representation of another client will be or is likely to be adversely affected by such representation;

(4) The lawyer’s professional judgment on behalf of the client will be or reasonably may be adversely affected by the lawyer’s responsibilities to or interests in a third party or the lawyer’s own financial, business, property, or personal interests.

(c) A lawyer may represent a client with respect to a matter in the circumstances described in paragraph (b) above if

(1) Each potentially affected client provides informed consent to such representation after full disclosure of the existence and nature of the possible conflict and the possible adverse consequences of such representation; and

(2) The lawyer reasonably believes that the lawyer will be able to provide competent and diligent representation to each affected client.

(d) If a conflict not reasonably foreseeable at the outset of representation arises under paragraph (b)(1) after the representation commences, and is not waived under paragraph (c), a lawyer need not withdraw from any representation unless the conflict also arises under paragraphs (b)(2), (b)(3), or (b)(4). Continue reading

Sally Yates Is Not A Hero. Sally Yates Is An Unethical Lawyer, And “Betrayal” Is Not Too Strong A Word For Her Conduct

yates

When you read pundits, journalists, your Angry Left Facebook  friends and even a few misguided lawyer proclaiming Sally Yates a hero, trust me, they either don’t know what they are talking about, or they are have allowed bias to make them stupid.  The Justice Department’s acting Attorney General who was fired minutes ago for refusing to defend President Trump’s Executive Order regarding Middle East immigration was not acting heroically. She was acting as a partisan, political operative, and by doing so, breached her duties an attorney as well as the District of Columbia Rules of Professional Conduct.

And I do know what I am talking about.

Yates was a holdover from the Obama administration, but to an ethical lawyer, that wouldn’t have mattered. Her client hadn’t changed; it is the United States of America. Neither had her professional obligations. Her client was still the government of the United States, and she was still duty bound to defend its laws, as determined by the legislature and the executive, the President of the United States. Under the Rules of Professional Conduct of the jurisdiction in which she practices, the District of Columbia (the Rule is 1.13) Yates had but one ethical option if she determined that her client wanted to engage in conduct she deemed illegal, repugnant, or unwise. Having made her concerns known, she could resign (Rule 1.16) , and quietly. She is duty bound not to harm her client during the representation (Rule 1.3, of which the District has an especially tough version), nor make public statements, or statements she has reason to believe will be made public, that breach her duty of loyalty. In defiance of all of that, tonight Yates stated, in a letter to her department’s lawyers,

“At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the executive order is consistent with these responsibilities, nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful.”

The only ethical conclusion of that statement is “therefore I am withdrawing.” Yates said that her decision not to defend the order included questions not only about the order’s lawfulness, but also whether it was a “wise or just” policy. That’s not her job. Lawyers are not permitted to substitute their judgement for their clients.

She was fired, and should have been. She should also be the subject of am ethics inquiry. This has nothing to do with the merits of Trump’s order. Former Harvard professor (and legal ethics prof) Alan Dershowitz, hardly a GOP flack, said tonight that Yates’ decision wasn’t legal, but political. Exactly. As a lawyer, she should have made her position clear from a legal perspective to the President, and then either followed his directive or quit. Her rogue announcement contradicted a finding by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which  approved the executive order “with respect to form and legality.” Nor did her outrageous grandstanding require courage. She was not going to keep her job anyway, so she decided to abuse the trust of the President to encourage partisan Trump-haters to hoot and applaud for an act of legal ethics defiance. (Ethics rules don’t apply when Donald Trump is involved, haven’t you heard?)

Yates is also a hypocrite. The Holder Justice Department, of which she was a part, defended multiple Executive Orders by President Obama that were legally dubious, and other actions as well. That Justice Department was one of the most disgracefully partisan within memory, a neat trick, since we have had a couple of decades of unethically partisan Justice Departments. Yates showed her pedigree tonight. She used her position as an attorney–the highest one there is—for her client, the United States, to undermine her client’s objectives, publicly and to her client’s detriment. The Trump administration has called this a betrayal.

That’s exactly what it is.

(More here..)

Slager’s Lawyer Unethically Throws Him Under The Bus (Not That He Doesn’t Belong There)

Professional Tip: Lawyers, it's unethical to do this to your clients!

Professional Tip: Lawyers, it’s unethical to do this to your clients!

When a lawyer believes that representing a client is something that he or she cannot do effectively, either because of a deep personal bias against the client, another conflict of interest, a reasonable belief that the client is untrustworthy or unmanageable, or some other good reason, his duty is to withdraw from the representation. Believing or even knowing that the client is guilty is not a good reason. Guilty clients have rights, the system demands a competent defense, and sometimes—rarely, but it happens—a lawyer can be surprised to find out that his “guilty” client isn’t guilty after all.

Withdrawal from a representation is appropriate and allowed in the circumstances defined by ABA Rule 1.16: Continue reading

Next To Board The Trayvon Martin Ethics Train Wreck? Why, The Lawyers, Of Course!

George Zimmerman attorneys Craig Sonner and Hal Uhrig explaining that their client is innocent, and how they are dropping him like a hot potato because of all the suspicious things he's been doing.

Over at the Legal Ethics Forum, the superb blog on the many and fast-moving ethical issues in the legal field, the usually reserved and impeccably professional blog founder, attorney John Steele, had this message for George Zimmerman’s ex-lawyers:

“[S] hut up, guys. Shut the h*** up. It’s not about you. It’s supposed to be about the client.  And that’s even before we get to the ethics rules on confidentiality.”*

Really, that’s about all that needs to be said.

During Ken Starr’s investigation of the Monica Lewinsky affair, his ethics counsel, former Watergate prosecutor Sam Dash, resigned with a public statement that he believed Starr had crossed ethical lines. Sam was my ethics professor in law school, and a finer man and more ethical lawyer never walked the earth, but on that day his ethics alarms broke down. A lawyer may not harm his or her client during the representation, and that includes leaving it. Why lawyers think that the fact that a case is getting a lot of publicity should alter their ethical obligations is a mystery, but they often do. If you have a dispute with a client, if you’ve decided that a client is dishonest, manipulative or can’t be trusted, or if, as in Zimmerman’s case, he takes actions that make your job more difficult or doesn’t communicate with you enough to do a competent job, fine: Rule 1.16 of the Rules of Professional Conduct says you can quit. The rule also says, however, that “…a lawyer must take all reasonable steps to mitigate the consequences to the client.One of those reasonable steps is not to make your withdrawal a major news story. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Criminal Defense Lawyer Gerard Marrone

If defending the Constitution means you can't look in the mirror, you're in the wrong profession.

Levi Aron was charged this week for abduction and death of Leiby Kletzky, an 8-year-old Brooklyn boy who disappeared while walking home from a Jewish day camp last week. Surveillance video showed the child  asking a stranger, alleged to be Aron, for directions and then getting into his car. A city-wide search for the missing child ended when police found the boy’s body parts, leading to Aron’s arrest.

Now Gerard Marrone, one of the two lawyers defending Aron, has withdrawn from the representation. There is, in theory, nothing wrong with that. A lawyer can withdraw from any representation for good cause, as long as the withdrawal doesn’t harm the defendant. Marrone’s withdrawal, however, was done in such a way that it almost certainly harms the defendant, because the lawyer told the press why he was withdrawing.

“I have three little boys,” he told the Daily News,“You can’t look at your kids and then look at yourself in the mirror, knowing that a little boy, who’s close in age to my eldest son, was murdered so brutally.” Continue reading

U.S. Attorney General Ethics, Rule #1: Remember What Your Job Is

"I am acting based on the expressed instructions of my client, who is, unfortunately, a moron."

How does the nation’s highest ranking lawyer forget what a lawyer’s job is? If I had to guess, I would say it could happen when the U.S. Attorney general in question is thinking about politics more that the law, and has been under such continuous fire from the public and the media for repeated bungles that he no longer knows who he’s working for.

But that would just be speculation on my part.

We know for certain, however, that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder delivered a statement announcing that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his four co-conspirators would be tried by a military tribunal at Guantanamo, and not in civilian trials in the U.S. as the Obama Administration had preferred. In the middle of this statement, Holder says, Continue reading