RULE 3.1 MERITORIOUS CLAIMS AND CONTENTIONS
A lawyer shall not bring or defend a proceeding, or assert or controvert an issue therein, unless there is a basis in law and fact for doing so that is not frivolous, which includes a good faith argument for an extension, modification or reversal of existing law. A lawyer for the defendant in a criminal proceeding, or the respondent in a proceeding that could result in incarceration or commitment, may nevertheless so defend the proceeding as to require that every element of the case be established.
Allegations and denials in any pleading, made without reasonable cause and not in
good faith, may
subject the lawyers who plead them, and their clients, to prejudice. Such pleading is
conduct. A lawyer's signature on a pleading, motion or other paper certifies to the court that the
lawyer has read it, that to the best of the lawyer's knowledge, information, and belief formed
reasonable inquiry it is well grounded in fact and is warranted by existing law or a good faith
argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law, and that it is not interposed
any improper purpose, such as to harass or to cause unnecessary delay or needless increase in the
cost of litigation. A lawyer whose certification is found to have been false has misused the legal
system and its procedures and has acted unprofessionally.
 The advocate has a duty to use legal procedure for the fullest benefit of the client's cause, but also a duty not to abuse legal procedure. The law, both procedural and substantive, establishes the limits within which an advocate may proceed. However, the law is not always clear and never is static. Accordingly, in determining the proper scope of advocacy, account must be taken of the law's ambiguities and potential for change.
Pleading and other documents prepared for and used in litigation on a
client's behalf are The
filing of an action or defense or similar action taken for a client is not frivolous merely
facts have not first been fully substantiated or because the lawyer expects to develop vital
through only by discovery. What is required of lawyers, however,
is that they inform themselves
about the facts of their clients' cases and the applicable law and determine that they can make
faith arguments in support of their clients' positions. Such documents are
action is not frivolous
even though the lawyer believes that the client's position ultimately might not prevail.
The action is frivolous, however, if the client desires its preparation and use
primarily for the
purpose of harassing or maliciously injuring another, or where regardless of the good faith of the
attorney or client responsible for the document there is such a complete absence of actual facts or
law in support of the document that a reasonable person could not have thought that a tribunal
render a favorable judgment upon it the lawyer is unable either to make a good faith
the merits of the action taken or to support the action taken by a good faith argument for an
extension, modification, or reversal of existing law.
 The lawyer's obligations under this Rule are subordinate to federal or state constitutional law that entitles the defendant in a criminal matter to the assistance of counsel in presenting a claim or contention that otherwise would be prohibited by this Rule.
 The duties of a lawyer are also governed by Rule 11, N.D. Rules of Civil Procedure, and sections 282601 and 282631, N.D.C.C.
Reference: Minutes of the Professional Conduct Subcommittee of the Attorney Standards Committee on 09/20/85, 11/08/85, 12/13/85 and 01/31/86; Minutes of the Joint Committee on Attorney Standards on 04/16/04, 03/18/05, 06/14/05, 09/09/05.