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Rules of Professional Conduct

Rule 8.4: Misconduct

It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to:

   (a) Violate or attempt to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct, knowingly assist or induce another to do so, or do so through the acts of another;
   (b) Commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects;
   (c) Engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation;
   (d) Engage in conduct that seriously interferes with the administration of justice;
   (e) State or imply an ability to influence improperly a government agency or official;
   (f) Knowingly assist a judge or judicial officer in conduct that is a violation of applicable rules of judicial conduct or other law; or
   (g) Seek or threaten to seek criminal charges or disciplinary charges solely to obtain an advantage in a civil matter.


[1] Many kinds of illegal conduct reflect adversely on fitness to practice law, such as offenses involving fraud and the offense of willful failure to file an income tax return. However, some kinds of offenses carry no such implication. Traditionally, the distinction was drawn in terms of offenses involving “moral turpitude.” That concept can be construed to include offenses concerning some matters of personal morality, such as adultery and comparable offenses, that have no specific connection to fitness for the practice of law. Although a lawyer is personally answerable to the entire criminal law, a lawyer should be professionally answerable only for offenses that indicate lack of those characteristics relevant to law practice. Offenses involving violence, dishonesty, breach of trust, or serious interference with the administration of justice are in that category. A pattern of repeated offenses, even ones of minor significance when considered separately, can indicate indifference to legal obligation.
[2] Paragraph (d)’s prohibition of conduct that “seriously interferes with the administration of justice” includes conduct proscribed by the previous Code of Professional Responsibility under DR 1-102(A)(5) as “prejudicial to the administration of justice.” The cases under paragraph (d) include acts by a lawyer such as: failure to cooperate with Disciplinary Counsel; failure to respond to Disciplinary Counsel’s inquiries or subpoenas; failure to abide by agreements made with Disciplinary Counsel; failure to appear in court for a scheduled hearing; failure to obey court orders; failure to turn over the assets of a conservatorship to the court or to the successor conservator; failure to keep the Bar advised of respondent’s changes of address, after being warned to do so; and tendering a check known to be worthless in settlement of a claim against the lawyer or against the lawyer’s client. Paragraph (d) is to be interpreted flexibly and includes any improper behavior of an analogous nature to these examples.
[3] A lawyer violates paragraph (d) by offensive, abusive, or harassing conduct that seriously interferes with the administration of justice. Such conduct may include words or actions that manifest bias or prejudice based upon race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status.