Title 204—JUDICIAL SYSTEM GENERAL PROVISIONS
PART V. PROFESSIONAL ETHICS AND CONDUCT
[ 204 PA. CODE CH. 81 ]
Amendment of Rule 8.4 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct; No. 196 Disciplinary Rules Doc.
[50 Pa.B. 3011]
[Saturday, June 20, 2020]
And Now, this 8th day of June, 2020, upon the recommendation of the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania; the proposal having been published for comment in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, 49 Pa.B. 4941 (August 31, 2019):
It is Ordered pursuant to Article V, Section 10 of the Constitution of Pennsylvania that Rule 8.4 of the Rules of Professional Conduct is amended in the following form.
This Order shall be processed in accordance with Pa.R.J.A. No. 103(b), and shall be effective in six months.
Justice Mundy dissents.
TITLE 204. JUDICIAL SYSTEM GENERAL PROVISIONS
PART V. PROFESSIONAL ETHICS AND CONDUCT
Subpart A. PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY
CHAPTER 81. RULES OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT
Subchapter A. RULES OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT
§ 81.4. Rules of Professional Conduct.
The following are the Rules of Professional Conduct:
MAINTAINING THE INTEGRITY
OF THE PROFESSION
Rule 8.4. Misconduct.
It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to:
* * * * *
(e) state or imply an ability to influence improperly a government agency or official or to achieve results by means that violate the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law; [or]
(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) in the practice of law, by words or conduct, knowingly manifest bias or prejudice, or engage in harassment or discrimination, as those terms are defined in applicable federal, state or local statutes or ordinances, including but not limited to bias, prejudice, harassment or discrimination based upon race, sex, gender identity or expression, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, marital status, or socioeconomic status. This paragraph does not limit the ability of a lawyer to accept, decline or withdraw from a representation in accordance with Rule 1.16. This paragraph does not preclude advice or advocacy consistent with these Rules.
Comment: * * * * *
(2) 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.
(3) For the purposes of paragraph (g), conduct in the practice of law includes participation in activities that are required for a lawyer to practice law, including but not limited to continuing legal education seminars, bench bar conferences and bar association activities where legal education credits are offered.
(4) The substantive law of antidiscrimination and anti-harassment statutes and case law guide application of paragraph (g) and clarify the scope of the prohibited conduct.
[(3)] (5) A lawyer may refuse to comply with an obligation imposed by law upon a good faith belief that no valid obligation exists. The provisions of Rule 1.2(d) concerning a good faith challenge to the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law apply to challenges of legal regulation of the practice of law.
[(4)] (6) Lawyers holding public office assume legal responsibilities going beyond those of other citizens. A lawyer's abuse of public office can suggest an inability to fulfill the professional role of lawyers. The same is true of abuse of positions of private trust such as trustee, executor, administrator, guardian, agent and officer, director or manager of a corporation or other organization.
[Pa.B. Doc. No. 20-784. Filed for public inspection June 19, 2020, 9:00 a.m.]
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