Thursday, December 18, 2014

Close Encounters of the Ethical and Conflicts Kind


Several stories showcasing the atypical. First up: "Leave to appeal granted in novel conflict of interest case" --
  • "A Toronto law firm has obtained leave to appeal an order of a judge who removed it from a case on the basis of conflict of interest even if the traditional test for a conflict wasn’t met. On Nov. 27, Divisional Court Justice Barbara Conway found 'there is good reason to doubt the correctness of the motion judge’s order' to remove the firm despite the fact the party affected by the conflict wasn’t a former client or 'a near client' of the firm."
  • "Superior Court Justice David Brown had removed Teplitsky Colson LLP as counsel of record for the plaintiff in a matter to do with alleged mismanagement of a hedge fund after finding it had obtained confidential information about the defendant company from an employee who was a former client of the firm."
Next, only part of the story has come to light here, so judgment reserved: "Tennessee Ethics Board Sued" --
  • "A bombshell of a lawsuit goes in front of a Nashville  judge Thursday as a pair of Nashville lawyers are suing their own ethics board for what they call ethical violations and a cover-up. That means they are suing the very people who punish lawyers for bad ethics."
  • "It all started when one lawyer saw an email about his upcoming case sent to a judge without his knowledge... It was a secret email he knew nothing about."
  • "'We discovered that the Board of Professional Responsibility was systematically engaging in unethical conduct. They, on a regular basis, were having secret conversations with judges, and now they are trying to cover it up,' Roberts said."
And showing that those of us in California should not cast stones across state lines (but please send water): "Viewpoint: State Bar Intrigue Shows Little Concern for Transparency" --
  • "It's been a pretty wild ride the last few months over at the State Bar of California. First, the state Supreme Court pulled the plug on the rules commission that had worked for over a decade on a wholesale revision of the Rules of Professional Conduct. Not a single rule of the 67 submitted by the commission to the bar board in 2010 has been approved by the Court."
  • "Then the Bar's board of trustees terminated Joe Dunn, its now-former executive director. Within a day of that news becoming public, Dunn—represented by high-profile, self-described 'criminal defense lawyer' Mark Geragos—filed a lawsuit against the Bar claiming he was a whistleblower."
  • "There's much to speculate about, but a few things seem clear... whatever happens with l'affaire Dunn, the State Bar has to learn to be more responsive to lawyers who inquire about straightforward information and, especially, the public and the public's right to know. Lack of transparency may be convenient to Bar execs and board members, but opacity serves neither the interests of the legal system or the public."

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