RULE 8.3 REPORTING PROFESSIONAL MISCONDUCT

Effective Date: 8/1/2006

(a) A lawyer who knows that another lawyer has committed a violation of these rules that raises a substantial question as to that lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects shall initiate proceedings under the North Dakota Rules for Lawyer Discipline.

(b) A lawyer who knows that a judge has committed a violation of the North Dakota Code of Judicial Conduct that raises a substantial question as to the judge's honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness for judicial office in other respects shall initiate proceedings under the Rules of the North Dakota Judicial Conduct Commission.

(c) This rule does not require disclosure of information protected by Rule 1.6 or information gained by a lawyer or judge while participating as a committee member, peer counselor, or program staff in a lawyer assistance program established under Administrative Rule 49.

Comment

[1] Self-regulation of the legal profession requires that members of the profession initiate disciplinary investigation when they know of a violation of these Rules. Lawyers have a similar obligation with respect to judicial misconduct. An apparently isolated violation may indicate a pattern of misconduct that only a disciplinary investigation can uncover. Reporting a violation is especially important where the victim is unlikely to discover the offense. A report should be made to the Disciplinary Board of the North Dakota Supreme Court.

[2] A report about misconduct is not required if it would involve a violation of Rule 1.6 by the reporting lawyer. However, a lawyer should encourage a client to consent to disclosure where prosecution would not substantially prejudice the client's interests.

[3] If a lawyer were obliged to report every violation of these Rules, the failure to report any violation would itself be a professional offense. This Rule limits the reporting obligation to those offenses that a self-regulating profession must vigorously endeavor to prevent. A measure of judgment is, therefore, required in complying with the provisions of this Rule. The term "substantial" refers to the seriousness of the possible offense and not the quantum of evidence of which the lawyer is aware. Similar considerations apply to the reporting of judicial misconduct.

[4] The duty to report professional misconduct does not apply to a lawyer retained to represent a lawyer whose professional conduct is in question. Such a situation is governed by the rules applicable to the lawyer-client relationship.

[5] Information about a lawyer's or judge's misconduct or fitness may be received by a lawyer in the course of that lawyer's participation in a lawyer assistance program established under Administrative Rule 49. In that circumstance, providing for an exception to the reporting requirements of paragraphs (a) and (b) of this Rule encourages lawyers and judges to seek treatment through such a program. Conversely, without such an exception lawyers and judges may hesitate to seek assistance from the program, which may result in additional harm to their professional careers and additional injury to the welfare of clients and the public. These Rules do not otherwise address the confidentiality of information received by a lawyer or judge participating in an approved lawyer assistance program; such an obligation may, however, be imposed by the rules of the program or other law or rule.

Reference: Minutes of the Professional Conduct Subcommittee of the Attorney Standards Committee on 12/13/85 and 01/31/86; Minutes of the Joint Committee on Attorney Standards on 06/11/02, 11/15/02, 02/28/03, 09/25/03, 11/14/03, 09/24/04, 04/08/05, 06/14/05, 09/09/05.

Effective Date Obsolete Date
08/01/2006 View
08/01/2004 08/01/2006 View
12/13/1985 08/01/2004 View