Hello and welcome back to How to Legal.
Given the recent revelations regarding former President Donald Trump’s lawyer, John Eastman, seeking a presidential pardon, after the January 6 attack on the United States Capital, we will look at a peaceful solution to restore integrity to the United States justice system.
See: Hugo Lowell, “Trump lawyer John Eastman sought presidential pardon after January 6: Disclosure from Capitol attack committee suggests consciousness of guilt in unlawful scheme to return Trump to White House, The Guardian, June 16, 2022.
This solution has been hiding in plain sight.
It also begins to solve one of the few issues both sides of the political aisle agree on.
The lack of trust in the United States justice system and institutions.
See for e.g.: Dan Berman, “Gallup: Record low 25% of Americans have confidence in Supreme Court,” CNN, June 23, 2022; and Identifying real problems in the U.S. legal system & solutions—How to Legal.
This solution is not hard, but it does take courage.
Let’s do this.
Are lawyers supposed to cover up fellow lawyers misconduct, according to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct governing attorneys?
Here we turn to the American Bar Association to find out.
At Rule 8.3: “Reporting Professional Misconduct” we learn the answer is an unequivocal, resounding “no.”
It reads in part:
Maintaining The Integrity of The Profession:
Rule 8.3 (a): 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.American Bar Association Model Rules of Professional Conduct
... shall inform the appropriate professional authority.
Indeed, lawyers must expose and hold oath-breaker lawyers accountable. If lawyers follow this rule, this will demonstrate to both sides of the aisle that justice and accountability are possible, regardless of politics and money.
Are lawyers supposed to cover up judicial misconduct?
Next, are lawyers supposed to cover up judicial misconduct according to the Model Rules or report it to the appropriate authorities?
Here again, we turn to the American Bar Association to find out.
Once again, we can see that lawyers are duty-bound to “inform the appropriate authority” of any judicial misconduct.
According to Rule 8.3 (b): A lawyer who knows that a judge has committed a violation of applicable rules of judicial conduct that raises a substantial question as to the judge’s fitness for office shall inform the appropriate authority.ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct
… shall inform the appropriate authority.
Every day that they don’t, they are actively undermining the integrity of the justice system and chipping away at democracy.
Here is a demonstration of a lawyer following this rule when he helped expose a bribe-taking judge. This corrupt, unethical judge was breaking the rules and violating his oath with another lawyer. See: Faith Karimi, “A former Texas judge is sentenced for accepting cash bribes stashed in beer boxes,” CNN, September 26, 2019.
A former Texas judge was sentenced to five years in federal prison after he was found guilty of accepting cash bribes to issue favorable court decisions.
A federal jury in Houston convicted Rodolfo Delgado, 66, of Edinburg, of one count of conspiracy, three counts of federal program bribery, three counts of travel act bribery and one count of obstruction of justice.
In addition to the 60 months in prison, he will get two years of supervised release.
“Rudy Delgado used his position to enrich himself. He didn’t just tip the scales of justice, he knocked it over with a wad of cash and didn’t look back,” US Attorney Ryan K. Patrick said. “Delgado’s actions unfairly tarnish all his former colleagues.”
Delgado was a judge for the 93rd district court in Texas, and had jurisdiction over criminal and civil cases within Hidalgo County.
Between January 2008 and November 2016, he conspired with an attorney to accept bribes in exchange for favorable judicial consideration on criminal cases in his courtroom, said the US attorney’s office for the southern district of Texas.
One of the attorneys started working as an informant for the FBI in 2016, and would take beer boxes to the judge and slip money into them, CNN affiliate KRGV reported.
During their meetings, the judge and the attorney discussed purchasing “wood,” which the latter described as the code word for judicial favors. On incidents caught on record, the attorney is heard asking Delgado to help him out with a potential client, the affiliate reported. In some cases, Delgado accepted cash, and asked for details such as the case number, according to the affiliate.CNN
So to recap, what have we learned?
Lawyers are required to self-police and report misconduct
We’ve learned that according to Rule 8.3 of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct lawyers are duty bound to inform the appropriate authorities regarding attorney(s) and/or judge(s) misconduct.
This is why the work the lawyers at The 65 Project are doing is necessary and important. The 65 Project has been filing ethic complaints against fellow lawyers–lawyers who violated their oaths and broke the rules.
The lawyers at The 65 Project are following their oaths, and Rule 8.3, by reporting professional misconduct and seeking accountability.
According to Rule 8.3, ALL lawyers are supposed to report misconduct.
As The 65 Project explains: “Lawyers take an oath to stand as officers of the court, bound by a code of conduct and ethical requirements that do not apply to the public more broadly. They cannot uphold that duty while lying to the court or the public about the factual grounds for phony claims.” (emphasis mine)
The 65 Project will serve to protect democracy from the threat posed through abuse of the legal system by holding accountable the lawyers who bring fraudulent lawsuits seeking to overturn legitimate election results or who otherwise violate their professional responsibilities to undermine our democracy.The 65 Project
Lawyers and judges, officers of the court, are also bound by oath or affirmation to support the Constitution.
Recall, that officers of the court are: “[a]ny person who has an obligation to promote justice and uphold the law, including judges, clerks, court personnel, police officers, and attorneys (who must be truthful in court and obey court rules).” Nolo
Update: How many lawyers does it take to investigate a lawyer? See: Karen Sloan, “Former California state bar leader hit with ethics charges,” Reuters, July 8, 2022.
The State Bar of California filed disciplinary charges against its own former executive director Joe Dunn earlier this week, claiming he wrongly spent bar funds on a trip to Mongolia and concealed opposition to a bill he wanted its board to sponsor while leading the organization.
Dunn, a former state senator who is now a lecturer and special adviser to the dean at the University of California, Irvine School of Law, could be disbarred if the State Bar Court upholds the charges, his lawyer said.
Dunn did not respond to requests for comment on the bar’s accusations Friday, and an Irvine Law spokesperson said the school had no comment. Dunn’s lawyer, Mark Geragos, said that the bar’s complaint was rife with conflicts of interest.
“The corruption is mind-boggling,” Geragos said. “We’re eight years removed. They have no basis to do this.”
The state bar fired Dunn in 2014 after an investigation found he overspent on international trips and misled bar leaders on policy issues during his four years as executive director. Dunn later filed a whistleblower suit against the bar, claiming he was fired because he had uncovered malfeasance within the organization. An arbitrator sided with bar officials in 2017.Reuters
Lawyers who alter documents undermine the integrity of the justice system
While everyone should have a reasonable expectation that if they deal with a lawyer, it is with an oath-following lawyer who follows the rules and the laws. Unfortunately we know that is not always the case. In fact, there are lawyers who have [temporarily] gotten away with horrific misconduct for decades. This you can verify in the Tom Girardi case out of California.
The more you follow court cases you will begin to see a pattern. There are ethical, oath-follower lawyers and then there are the rule, oath-breaker attorneys who in some cases have not been held accountable.
While lawyers are advocates for their clients, they are supposed to be advocates within their oath, the rules and laws. This should be obvious, but it is not. Somewhere down the line for some lawyers “advocate” mutated into abuse.
Among the Model Rules of Professional Conduct that you might see an abusive lawyer break, as a purported “advocate” is:
Rule 3.4: Fairness to Opposing Party & Counsel
A lawyer shall not:
(a) unlawfully obstruct another party’ s access to evidence or unlawfully alter, destroy or conceal a document or other material having potential evidentiary value. A lawyer shall not counsel or assist another person to do any such act;
(b) falsify evidence, counsel or assist a witness to testify falsely, or offer an inducement to a witness that is prohibited by law…American Bar Associations Model Rules of Professional Conduct
To see two examples of lawyers who have filed “alleged” altered documents in a court of law, and to learn the difference between good faith, lawful mistakes and bad faith, unlawful “mistakes” go to >> Altered exhibits and pleadings—How to Legal
The only good thing about the oath/rule-breaking lawyers is they show you who the ethical and unethical judges are. Oath/rule-breaker judges give unethical, abusive lawyers a free pass(es) to break the rules, and thwart due justice.
Instead of deterring misconduct, red-flag oath/rule breaker judges can become abusers too as they demonstrate a lack of impartiality, and common decency. These judges give the appearance of being in the tank with the lawyers who violate the rules without any consequences as an “ädvocate.”
Ethical judges don’t.
It is what it is. The oath breaker legal professionals identify themselves in court filings. They show you who they really are and what’s going on.
Update: Look. Here’s another lawyer reportedly altering documents, including forging signatures on settlement docs. On the flip side, there are also lawyers who will alter docs to rip off their clients as demonstrated in Maxine Berstein’s report, “State bar discovers it failed to inventory records for 91 former clients of disgraced Portland lawyer,” The Oregonian, November 25, 2019.
“Investigators say Deveny forged client signatures on settlement documents she sent to various insurance companies, transferred funds without authorization to personal accounts & lied to clients that the insurance companies were to blame. “
See also: The fake news, defamation, and judicial misconduct crisis
#oathbreakers lawyers and #oathfollowers lawyers
Lawyers who violate their oath, break the rules, and/or fail to report misconduct, are not promoting justice. These lawyers do not support or defend the Constitution. Instead they make a mockery of the rule of law and undermine the legal system.
I think it is fair to say that people are realizing how court cases can affect them even if they have nothing to do with the legal system.
Additionally, lawyers who violate Rule 8.3, or any of the rules, diminish the sanctity of their oath.
This is a big deal.
As Quinta Jurecic, Tyler McBrien, and Natalie K. Orpett of Lawfare recently explained:
Just as the law lacks legitimacy unless those who make, enforce, and interpret it share a genuine commitment to treat it seriously, so too does an oath lack sanctity unless those who violate it are held to account.The Jan. 6th Committee on Why Oaths Matter, Lawfare, June 17, 2022.
Which law firm(s) and legal professionals would want to be associated with oath/rule-breaking judges, and lawyers?
[S]upport and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic…
There is no reason to be deceived by shiny, impressive bios in the legal community. You can identify the courts and the law firms who are not supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States because their names are on the dockets demonstrating potential misconduct, too.
Do not do to others what you don't want to be done to you. — Confucius
In light of the reporting exposing judicial misconduct, it should be reasonable to assume that more lawyers would be exposing misconduct, filing ethic complaints, notifying authorities, and the like.
We are not seeing that yet.
See for e.g.: Michael Berens and John Shiffman, “Thousands of U.S. judges who broke laws or oaths remained on the bench,” Reuters, June 30, 2020; James V. Grimaldi, Coulter Jones and Joe Palazzolo, “131 Federal Judges Broke the Law by Hearing Cases Where They Had a Financial Interest,” Wall Street Journal, September 28, 2021; and Erik Ortiz, “Robed in secrecy: How judges accused of misconduct can dodge public scrutiny,” NBC, December 26, 2021.
As such, when you read court cases consider downloading them and keep a copy because altering docs is a thing and it may have legal consequences.
Shiny, impressive bios meet smoke and mirrors in the legal profession
Update: Jenna Greene, “It’s official: Lawyer awards (at least some of them) are scams,” Reuters, December 22, 2021
Wondering if some legal awards are garbage?
Here’s a hint: The Federal Trade Commission last week put out a consumer advisory headlined “Look beyond the award when you hire a lawyer.”
The agency notes that if you find yourself unexpectedly in need of legal help and start searching online, you’re likely to encounter “lawyers and law firms with fancy-looking seals and badges on their websites claiming they’re among the best in their field.”
But the FTC warns that “some of these seals or badges might be ‘vanity’ or ‘ego’ awards that lawyers can buy.”Reuters
So please do not be deceived by shiny, impressive bios. Lawyers know the rules. They know how to follow them or break them. They are the same rules after all.
For more see for e.g.: Hon. Linda V Parker’s order in King v. Whitmer (2:20-cv-13134).
See also: Judges & Lawyers Oaths, Codes & Rules—How to Legal
As political violence accelerates every day we don’t see more lawyers self-policing, following Rule 8.3, and holding their unethical colleagues to account, is another day where oath-breakers in the legal profession are intentionally undermining the integrity of the justice system.
Unethical, two-faced lawyers fuel distrust in the legal system. They unjustly rob parties of due justice and enable bad actors. This also hurts the credibility of judges who have conducted proper proceedings according to their oath and the rules. In the court of public opinion, people don’t know who is who.
What kind of society do you want to live in?
Civilized or uncivilized?
Peaceful or violent?
More than one quarter of US residents feel so estranged from their government that they feel it might “soon be necessary to take up arms” against it, a poll released on Thursday claimed.
This survey of 1,000 registered US voters, published by the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics (IOP), also revealed that most Americans agree the government is “corrupt and rigged against everyday people like me”.
The data suggests that extreme polarization in US politics – and its impact on Americans’ relationships with each other – remain strong.Victoria Bekiempis, “A quarter of Americans open to taking up arms against government, poll says,’” The Guardian, June 30, 2022.
Let’s wrap this up.
As always, I hope you have learned something new in this latest installment of How to Legal. Do you see? There are peaceful solutions to fix real problems while healing the divide between Americans, as demonstrated above.
This is how you do it!
Lawyers can restore integrity to the United States justice system by following their oaths and Rule 8.3. Conversely, lawyers …
The more you learn about the justice system, the more you will appreciate, and respect the oath-following officers of the court who stand firm against corruption.
The more you learn about the justice system, the more you will see and feel the damage caused by two-faced, cruel oath/rule-breaking officers of the court.
It’s time for me to sign off now, get up, stretch, and move around. Remember to take breaks when you How to Legal, and to be good to yourself.
This time, for me, my music pick is Montell Jordan’s, “This is how we do it.” See his official website. What’s your pick?
Thank you for spending time at How to Legal. Stay hopeful and informed. This peaceful solution can restore integrity to the justice system. #selfpolice
Violence is never the answer.
Updated with CNN story about Texas Judge sentenced to prison for taking bribes hidden in beer boxes.
Updated with “Former California state bar leader hit with ethics charges,” Reuters, July 8, 2022.
Updated with Jenna Greene, “It’s official: Lawyer awards (at least some of them) are scams,” Reuters, December 22, 2021
Updated with “State bar discovers it failed to inventory records for 91 former clients of disgraced Portland lawyer,” The Oregonian, November 25, 2019.
Marinka Peschmann’s Legal Disclaimer
None of the information on this website is legal advice. While I have litigated as a pro se plaintiff when according to Reuters and Wall Street Journal there was a lot of judicial misconduct going on, I am not a lawyer. This information is for educational purposes. If you need legal advice, please consult with a licensed professional in your area.
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