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End-of-life notice: American Legal Ethics Library

As of March 1, 2013, the Legal Information Institute is no longer maintaining the information in the American Legal Ethics Library. It is no longer possible for us to maintain it at a level of completeness and accuracy given its staffing needs. It is very possible that we will revive it at a future time. At this point, it is in need of a complete technological renovation and reworking of the "correspondent firm" model which successfully sustained it for many years.

Many people have contributed time and effort to the project over the years, and we would like to thank them. In particular, Roger Cramton and Peter Martin not only conceived ALEL but gave much of their own labor to it. We are also grateful to Brad Wendel for his editorial contributions, to Brian Toohey and all at Jones Day for their efforts, and to all of our correspondents and contributors. Thank you.

We regret any inconvenience.

Some portions of the collection may already be severely out of date, so please be cautious in your use of this material.

Comments to Rhode Island Disciplilnary Rules of Professional Conduct

Comment - Rule 3.8

[1] A prosecutor has the responsibility of a minister of justice and not simply that of an advocate. This responsibility carries with it specific obligations to see that the defendant is accorded procedural justice and that guilt is decided upon the basis of sufficient evidence. Precisely how far the prosecutor is required to go in this direction is a matter of debate and varies in different jurisdictions. Many jurisdictions have adopted the ABA Standards of Criminal Justice Relating to the Prosecution Function, which in turn are the product of prolonged and careful deliberation by lawyers experienced in both criminal prosecution and defense. See also Rule 3.3(d), governing ex parte proceedings, among which grand jury proceedings are included. Applicable law may require other measures by the prosecutor and knowing disregard of those obligations or a systematic abuse of prosecutorial discretion could constitute a violation of Rule 8.4.

[2] Paragraph (c) does not apply to an accused appearing pro se with the approval of the tribunal. Nor does it forbid the lawful questioning of a suspect who has knowingly waived the rights to counsel and silence.

[3] The exception in paragraph (d) recognizes that a prosecutor may seek an appropriate protective order from the tribunal if disclosure of information to the defense could result in substantial harm to an individual or to the public interest.

[4] The prohibition in paragraph (f) was added by the committee because of the increasing incidence of grand jury and trial subpoenas directed towards attorneys. It is the belief of the committee that the requirements of prior judicial approval, which should be granted or denied after an opportunity for an adversarial proceeding, will serve as an appropriate safeguard to this practice and its threat to the confidentiality and integrity of the attorney-client relationship. The committee believes that a court called upon for prior judicial approval should be guided by appropriate standards. See e.g., U.S. v. Klubock, 832 F.2d 664 (1st Cir. 1987) (en banc). Accordingly, prior judicial approval should be withheld unless (1) the information sought is not protected from disclosure by an applicable privilege, (2) the evidence sought is essential to the successful completion of an ongoing investigation or prosecution and is not merely peripheral, cumulative or speculative, (3) the subpoena lists the information sought with particularity, is directed at information regarding a limited subject matter in a reasonably limited period of time, and gives reasonable and timely notice, (4) the purpose of the subpoena is not to harass the attorney or his or her client, and (5) the prosecutor has unsuccessfully made all reasonable attempts to obtain the information sought from non-attorney sources and there is no other feasible alternative to obtain the information. See "Report to the House of Delegates," ABA Criminal Justice Section, February 1988.