Monday, July 20, 2009
Posted by Alan Childress
Thanks to Clark Cunningham, professor in legal ethics at Georgia State University, we pass along the announcement below on a Fall 09 workshop in Georgia of interest to our readers. Note that the workshop is open not just to law profs but also to practitioners with an interest in ethics training. Also the link to the National Institute for Teaching Ethics & Professionalism (NIFTEP) is here.
The conference info is:
NIFTEP was founded in 2005 as a consortium of five nationally-recognized university centers on ethics and professionalism. It conducts national workshops that bring together leading academics and practitioners involved in promoting the teaching of ethics and professionalism. Attendance at these highly participatory events is limited to invited speakers and to those selected to be NIFTEP Fellows. Fellowships are typically granted either to full-time law professors who teach legal ethics or to practitioners actively involved in ethics CLE education and professionalism programs. However, any person committed to promoting ethics and professionalism may apply. Fellows are reimbursed for their travel expenses and there is no charge for the workshop.
Fellowship applications are not yet available, but will open on the NIFTEP website beginning August 17, 2009: http://law.gsu.edu/ccunningham/Professionalism/NIFTEP/ [or Google NIFTEP]. We expect to begin reviewing applications on September 11, 2009, and to make selection decisions by September 25. (Prior NIFTEP Fellows are welcome to apply for this workshop.)
Though the Fall 2009 workshop program has not yet been finalized, previous workshop programs are available on the NIFTEP website.
If you wish to receive an email reminder when the application is available, please contact NIFTEP Deputy Director Charlotte Alexander at firstname.lastname@example.org, put "NIFTEP MAILING LIST" in the subject line, and include your contact information in the body of the email message.
The Arizona Disciplinary Commission approved a proposed 30 day suspension followed by two years probation in a matter where the attorney had falsely advised a judge in a contentious custody matter that he could not proceed to a hearing because he was due to appear in another court. The judge checked and found that the representation was false. The attorney admitted the misconduct and asserted in explanation that he was "emotionally frazzled" and unprepared due to a fight with his wife the night before the hearing and the theft of his briefcase. (Mike Frisch)
From the web page of the Indiana Supreme Court:
The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications has issued a Public Admonition against the Honorable Roger L. Huizenga, Walkerton Town Court in St. Joseph County. Supreme Court rules give the Commission the discretion to issue a Commission Admonition instead of filing formal charges when the judge consents to that resolution and when the Commission determines that a Public Admonition sufficiently address the misconduct alleged. Public Admonitions are kept on file with the Commission and also can be read by the public on the Commission’s website. The Admonition against Judge Huizenga details his violation of the Indiana Code of Judicial Conduct for two separate incidents.
In one incident, Judge Huizenga was investigated for his actions that took place November 14, 2007. On that day, a defendant approached Judge Huizenga in his office about tickets she received for speeding and an expired license plate infraction. Judge Huizenga informed the defendant that she would have to pay the speeding ticket, but the expired license plate infraction would be dismissed if the license plate was renewed within thirty days. The defendant agreed to the offer but later failed to renew her plate, which resulted in the suspension of her driver’s license. No deputy prosecutor was present for the conversation between Judge Huizenga and the defendant. The conversation is considered ex parte and is not allowed. Ex Parte is a Latin word defined as "by or for one party" and refers to situations in which only one party and not the other appears before a judge. Except for limited exceptions not applicable to this matter, the Indiana Code of Judicial Conduct prohibits a judge from having a conversation with one party about substantive matters of the case when the other party is not present and is not given an opportunity to be heard.
Judge Huizenga acknowledges that this conduct violated Canons 1 and 2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, which requires judges to ensure the fairness, impartiality, and integrity of the judiciary. He also admits that he violated Canon 3B(8), which forbids judges from initiating, permitting, or considering ex parte communications.
In a separate incident, Judge Huizenga was investigated for actions that took place from November 1995 through March 13, 2009 when Judge Huizenga employed his wife as the court clerk. In 1998, the Commission issued an Advisory Opinion setting out guidelines and restrictions for judges considering hiring relatives or friends. In that opinion, Indiana judges were advised to contact the Commission to discuss the potential employment of relatives and further were informed that “the employment or appointment of a spouse likely will never be appropriate.” Judge Huizenga did not contact the Commission to ask about the propriety of his wife’s continued employment with the court. However, after the initiation of the Commission’s investigation, Judge Huizenga did cooperate with the Commission by encouraging his wife to resign, which she ultimately did.
Judge Huizenga acknowledges that this conduct violated Canon 3C(4) and Rule 2.12, which state that a judge should avoid nepotism and favoritism.
The Public Admonition concludes the Commission’s investigation, and Judge Huizenga will not formally be charged with ethical misconduct. Judge Huizenga fully cooperated with the Commission and acknowledges he violated the Code of Judicial Conduct. The Public Admonition can be found at http://courts.in.gov/jud-qual/admonitions.html.
The New York Appellate Division for the Fourth Judicial Department has imposed reciprocal discipline based on a one-year deferred suspension of the attorney in Tennessee. The misconduct involved a self-report of a 2006 incident in which the attorney had possessed a marijuana cigarette. The attorney had completed the terms of the Tennessee court order and the court here imposed the suspension effective in 2006.
The link to the court's web page is here. The case is Matter of Feeney, decided July 2, 2009. (Mike Frisch)
Sunday, July 19, 2009
From Practice Blawg:
Ethical Duty to Report Your Own Malpractice - A Proposed Opinion
The Minnesota Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board has proposed the adoption of Opinion No. 21 [opens as PDF], which deals with a lawyer’s duty to report his or her own malpractice to the lawyer’s client. The proposed opinion states:
A lawyer who knows that the lawyer’s conduct could reasonably be expected to be the basis for a malpractice claim by a current client should consult with the client about the lawyer’s conduct and the potential claim. In consulting with the client, the lawyer should disclose any significant risk that continued representation of the client will be materially limited by the personal interest of the lawyer and should advise the client to seek independent legal advice about the potential claim and the lawyer’s continued representation. When there is a conflict of interest, the lawyer should obtain the client’s informed consent, confirmed in writing, regarding the lawyer’s continued representation, if the continued representation is not otherwise prohibited.
Comments to the proposed opinion are included in the proposed opinion. The LPRB is accepting public comment until August 31, with comments to be made in writing to:
Siama Y. Chaudhary
1500 Landmark Towers
345 St. Peter Street
St. Paul, MN 55102
There does not appear to be a way to e-mail or post comments, though we have added this as a topic for discussion on mypractice, the MSBA’s professional networking site.
The web page of the Louisiana Supreme Court reports that the below-quoted order was entered on July 13:
APPLICATION FOR PERMISSION TO TAKE THE BAR EXAMINATION WITH PERSONAL COMPUTER GRANTED:
2009-OB-1546 IN RE: [NAMED APPLICANT]
VICTORY, J., would deny the request.
KNOLL, J., would deny the request.
JONES, J., would deny the request.
And from July 16:
APPLICATION FOR PERMISSION TO TAKE THE BAR EXAMINATION WITH PERSONAL COMPUTER DENIED:
JOHNSON, J., would grant the petition.
WEIMER, J., would grant the petition.
GUIDRY, J., would grant the petition.
The orders are not linked.