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Some portions of the collection may already be severely out of date, so please be cautious in your use of this material.

Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct

Comment - Rule 5.08

1. Subject to certain exemptions, paragraph (a) of this Rule prohibits willful expressions of bias or prejudice in connection with adjudicatory proceedings that are directed towards any persons involved with those proceedings in any capacity. Because the prohibited conduct only must occur "in connection with "an adjudicatory proceeding, it applies to misconduct transpiring outside of as well as in the presence of the tribunal's presiding adjudicatory official. Moreover, the broad definition given to the term "adjudicatory proceeding" under these Rules means that paragraph (a)'s prohibition applies to many settings besides conventional litigation in federal or state courts. See Preamble: Terminology (definitions of "Adjudicatory Proceeding" and "Tribunal").

2. The Rule, however, contains several important limitations and exemptions. The first, found in paragraph (a), is that a lawyer's allegedly improper words or conduct must be shown to have been "willful" before the lawyer may be subjected to discipline.

3. In addition, paragraph (b) sets out four exemptions from the prohibition of paragraph (a). The first is a lawyer's decision whether to represent a client. The second is any communication made by the lawyer that is "confidential" under Rule 1.05(a) and (b). The third is a lawyer's communication that is necessary to represent a client properly and that complies with applicable rulings and orders of the tribunal as well as with applicable rules of practice or procedure.

4. The fourth exemption in paragraph (b) relates to the lawyer's words or conduct in selecting a jury. This exemption ensures that a lawyer will be free to thoroughly probe the venire in an effort to identify potential jurors having a bias or prejudice towards the lawyer's client, or in favor of the client's opponent, based on, among other things, the factors enumerated in paragraph (a). A lawyer, should remember, however, that the use of peremptory challenges to remove persons from juries based solely on some of the factors listed in paragraph (a) raises separate constitutional issues.