Rules of Professional Conduct

8. Maintaining the Integrity of the Profession

ER 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 is prejudicial to the administration of justice;
 
(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 Code of Judicial Conduct or other law.

(g) file a notice of change of judge under Rule 10.2, Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure, for an improper purpose, such as obtaining a trial delay or other circumstances enumerated in Rule 10.2(b).

Comment

COMMENT [AMENDED EFFECTIVE DEC. 1, 2002]

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, or breach of trust, or serious interference with the administration of justice are in that category. A pattern of repeated offenses, even one of minor significance when considered separately, can indicate indifference to legal obligation.

A lawyer who in the course of representing a client, knowingly manifests by words or conduct, bias or prejudice based upon race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status, violates paragraph (d) when such actions are prejudicial to the administration of justice. This does not preclude legitimate advocacy when race, sex, religion, national original, disability, age, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status, or other similar factors, are issues in the proceeding. A trial judge's finding that peremptory challenges were exercised on a discriminatory basis does not alone establish a violation of this rule.

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 ER 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.

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 attorney. 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.

COURT COMMENT TO EXPERIMENTAL 2001 AMENDMENT TO ER 8.4(G)

Arizona is one of only a few states that allow by judicial rules a party to notice a change of judge without cause. The purpose of the rule is to allow a party to ask for a new judge when a party may perceive a bias that does not rise to disqualification under the rules allowing a challenge for actual bias or prejudice. Historically, the reasons for exercising a challenge were not inquired into. Just as peremptory challenges of jurors lead to abuses of race or gender based disqualification, however, the peremptory notice of judge has been abused by some to obtain trial delay.

The rule was amended in 2001 on an experimental basis to make clear that filing a notice of change of judge for an improper purpose, such as trial delay or other circumstances enumerated in Rule 10.2(b), is unprofessional conduct. The Court adopted this amendment and the amendments to Rule 10.2. Rules of Criminal Procedure, in an effort to address abuse of Rule 10.2. If such abuse is not substantially reduced as a result of the amendments at the conclusion of the one-year experiment on June 30, 2002, the Court at that time will abolish the peremptory change of judge in most criminal cases as recommended in a proposal by the Arizona Judicial Council. See R-00-0025.

COMMENT [EFFECTIVE DEC. 1, 2003]

[1] Lawyers are subject to discipline when they 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, as when they request or instruct an agent to do so on the lawyer's behalf. Paragraph (a), however, does not prohibit a lawyer from advising a client of action the client is lawfully entitled to take.

[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, or 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] A lawyer who in the course of representing a client, knowingly manifests by words or conduct, bias or prejudice based upon race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or socioeconomic status, violates paragraph (d) when such actions are prejudicial to the administration of justice. This does not preclude legitimate advocacy when race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or socioeconomic status, or other similar factors, are issues in the proceeding. A trial judge's finding that peremptory challenges were exercised on a discriminatory basis does not alone establish a violation of this Rule.

[4] 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 ER 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.

[5] 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.

COURT COMMENT TO 2004 AMENDMENT

Arizona is one of a minority of states that allow a party to file a notice of change of judge without cause. The purpose of the rule is to allow a party to ask for a new judge when a party may perceive a bias that does not rise to disqualification under the rules allowing a challenge for actual bias or prejudice.

Arizona's rule permitting peremptory change of judge has historically been viewed as "salutary" on the grounds that "it is not necessary to embarrass the judge by setting forth in detail the facts of bias, prejudice or interests which may disqualify him nor is it necessary for judge, litigant and attorney to involve themselves in an imbroglio which might result in everlasting bitterness on the part of the judge and the lawyer." Anonymous v. Superior Court, 14 Ariz. App. 502, 504, 484 P. 2d 655 (1971).

However, just as peremptory challenges of jurors led to abuses of race or gender-based disqualification, the peremptory notice of judge has been subject to abuse, including attempts through "blanket" challenges to bring pressure upon judges and thereby undermine judicial independence. State v. City Court of City of Tucson, 150 Ariz. 99, 722 P. 2d 267.

The rule was amended in 2004 to make clear that filing a notice of change of judge for an improper purpose, such as trial delay or other circumstances enumerated in Rule 10.2(b), is unprofessional conduct. The Court adopted this amendment and the amendments to Rule 10.2, Rules of Criminal Procedure, in an effort to address abuse of Rule 10.2 while preserving the traditional benefits of the right to peremptory change of judge.