Attorney Ethics Rules: No Teeth?

Many parents are detailing misconduct on the part of their former family law attorneys and also actions taken by GALs (also attorneys) that are in violation of Georgia’s ethics rules.

The public believes that other attorneys on the case MUST report violations to the State Bar, and become very frustrated – if not depressed and anxious – over the fact that things like lying to clients, withholding evidence from the Court, lying to peace officers and more are just being ignored.

Thankfully the Daily Report shared this letter to the Editor which explains why we don’t see more accountability.

Excerpt:

“Georgia Rule of Professional Conduct 8.3 requires nothing of a lawyer who knows another lawyer has acted unethically: “A lawyer having knowledge that another lawyer has committed a violation of the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct that raises a substantial question as to that lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects, should inform the appropriate professional authority.”

Use of the word “should” renders Rule 8.3 a non-Rule—it is, at best, an exhortation. If that’s not enough, Georgia’s ethics rules establish maximum penalties for violations. The maximum penalty for violating non-Rule 8.3 is no penalty.

In other words, there is no penalty for not doing what has not been made mandatory to start with.

Contrast Georgia’s non-Rule 8.3 with Model Rule 8.3: “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.” Furthermore, unlike Georgia’s gutted non-rule, the penalty for violating Model Rule 8.3 is left to the judgment of a disciplinary authority.

The Comment to Georgia non-Rule 8.3 reminds us, in lofty language, that self-regulation requires lawyers to initiate disciplinary investigations when we know of a violation. Yet the rule itself is hortatory, requiring nothing. The irony would be humorous in a work of fiction.

The Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct—written and enforced by attorneys—seem designed to protect attorneys from the consequences of their actions more than to provide a meaningful framework for discipline and accountability. Is it any wonder that lawyers are held in such low regard by a large percentage of the American public?

#Georgia needs to rethink its ethics rules. A good start would be to eliminate the limits on disciplinary penalties and give serious consideration to adopting a set of rules based on the ABA’s Model Rules.
Read more: http://www.dailyreportonline.com 

http://bit.ly/14O9FwH

by Grady O. “Jed” Morton Jr. Atlanta

Thank you, Jed for submitting this accurate report of the situation.

 

An example of how this is impacting parents in the family law arena is as follows:

Actual case in Fulton County, Georgia.

Mother files for divorce, hires an aggressive attorney. High Net Worth case.

Father hires a well-known “connected & influential” attorney.

Mother is taught by her attorney how to STAGE a fake domestic violence incident so they can use it as leverage around custody rulings and so her attorney can ask for higher fees upfront, while the father’s attorney has to be paid more immediately to help deal with the false allegations. (Mother actually puts in writing to a friend that this was planned out in advance.  Father’s attorney knows this.)

Both attorneys on this case know that they have lied to their clients in this action, with the father’s attorney knowing – having proof in hand – that the mother AND her attorney have lied both to the Peace Officers AND to the Court around this issue.

The fathers attorney does nothing to confront and deal with the lies to the police or the perjury around the false allegations. He is apparently content to earn more in fees as his client becomes more anxious, and his stress shows in front of his children as they are withheld from him.  (In a separate article we will explain how the children are damaged by this situation, and the financial impact on the family & community.)

What should happen to the father’s attorney for NOT reporting what he knows is a violation of ethics rules, as well as a crime?

What should happen to the mother’s attorney for telling the father that IF he pays X amount of money in legal fees, he can then see his children?  Father pays that amount, and THEN this attorney comes back to the father saying he know needs to pay $150,000 in order to see his children.

Should the father’s attorney also be accountable for allowing this to happen and to go unreported to the State Bar?

Please weigh in.

If you think “oh, well, they can afford it” then think again.  Who is paying the highest price for this misconduct?  The wealthy father?  Actually NO; it is the whole family, but especially the children.  Also consider the father’s lost time from work, the effect on his health and the stress on his children, who do not understand why daddy can’t see them, and why the police came to their house.

This is critical to address because CERTAIN attorneys are repeatedly helping their clients use FALSE allegations to gain leverage.  They know they are lying to police and to the Court.  Perjury?  No teeth?

The very harsh reality – what IS hurting other families and CHILDREN –  is that this type of misconduct is causing REAL violence and abuse to not be taken seriously, so more injuries are occurring to parents and children.

Police resources are being wasted.  And then some.

Time to address the lack of reporting of this and other types of misconduct on the part of legal professionals.

The Divorce Corp. documentary premiering in Atlanta, sponsored by My Advocate Center, will help reveal the path toward resolving this mess.

ORDER TICKETS HERE FOR THE EVENT.

Susan Boyan