Ethics Opinion 167

By Committee on Professional Ethics

NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATION
Professional Ethics Committee Opinion

Opinion #167 – 11/06/1970 (44-70)

Topic: Professional Impropriety; District Attorneys
Digest: Ethically improper for District Attorney’s office to sponsor a golf and dinner outing for judges and lawmen
Code: Canon 9; EC 9-1, EC 7-35, EC 7-36, EC 7-34

QUESTION

The District Attorney’s Office of a metropolitan county sponsors annually a golf and dinner outing solely for area judges and lawmen. The event received publicity in a newspaper of general circulation in the area. The County Bar Association has inquired whether said activity is in violation of the Canons of Ethics.

OPINION

It is ethically improper for a District Attorney’s office to sponsor a golf and dinner outing solely for judges and lawmen.Lawyers should avoid even the appearance of professional impropriety. The public must have faith that justice can be obtained through our legal system. Lawyers should promote public confidence in our system. Canon 9, EC 9-1.All litigants and lawyers should have access to tribunals on an equal basis.  EC 7-35. A lawyer should not lend himself to private importunities with a judge. EC 7-36. A lawyer should avoid any other conduct calculated to gain special consideration.Canon 3 provides in part: “marked attention and unusual hospitality on the part of a lawyer to a judge, uncalled for by the personal relations of the parties, subject both the judge and the lawyer to misconstructions of motive and should be avoided”.To permit this activity would give the impression to the public that the Judiciary and law enforcement agencies are not totally separate and impartial departments.  This in turn might give rise to the conclusions that a defendant would not secure a fair and completely objective trial and lessen respect for the judicial system.

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