skip navigation

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Some portions of the collection may already be severely out of date, so please be cautious in your use of this material.

Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct

Comment - Rule 3.05

Undue Influence

1. Many forms of improper influence upon tribunals are proscribed by criminal law or by applicable rules of practice or procedure. Others are specified in the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct. A lawyer is required to be familiar with, and to avoid contributing to a violation of, all such provisions. See also Rule 3.06.

2. In recent years, however, there has been an increase in alternative methods of dispute resolution, such as arbitration, for which the standards governing a lawyer's conduct are not as well developed. In such situations, as in more traditional settings, a lawyer should avoid any conduct that is or could reasonably be construed as being intended to corrupt or to unfairly influence the decision-maker.

Ex Parte Contacts

3. Historically, ex parte contacts between a lawyer and a tribunal have been subjected to stringent control because of the potential for abuse such contacts present. For example, Canon 3A(4) of the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct prohibits many ex parte contacts with judicial officials. A lawyer in turn violates Rule 8.04(a)(6) by communicating with such an official in a manner that causes that official to violate Canon 3A(4). This rule maintains that traditional posture towards ex parte communications and extends it to the new settings discussed in paragraph 2 of this Comment.

4. There are certain types of adjudicatory proceedings, however, which have permitted pending issues to be discussed ex parte with a tribunal. Certain classes of zoning questions, for example, are frequently handled in that way. As long as such contacts are not prohibited by law or applicable rules of practice and procedure, and as long as paragraph (a) of this Rule is adhered to, such ex parte contacts will not serve as a basis for discipline.

5. For limitations on the circumstances and the manner in which lawyers may communicate or cause another to communicate with veniremen or jurors, see Rule 3.06.