"a grievance system that moves in secret , then winds up discipling a minuscule percent of those whose conduct is complained about, can be neither  effective nor creditable."  Here's what must be done

If your lawyer mishandles your case, charges exorbitant fee or steals your money, what can you do about it?  Short of suing for malpractice , you must take your complaint to a grievance committee made up of other lawyers.  What are your chances of getting a fair hearing?  Accordig to all available statistics, they are so slim that you would be wasting your time.  For example: 

  • In Pennsylvania, of the 9,971 complaints filed against lawyers from 1973 through 1978, only one percent-120 cases- resulted in public punishment. The attitude of Pennsylvania grievance authorities is reflected in the form letter all complaints receive. It says that "nearly all lawyers are reputable and sincere" ; that the complaint "may drastically affect the lawyer's ability to earn a living"; that he will "inevitably suffer from the accusation," even if he is innocent; and that complaint "should not expect to be given detailed reasons for the disposition" of their charges.
  • In New York City, of the 2721 complaints disposed of by the city bar's grievance committee in 1978, only 20 brought public punishment.
  • In Texas, of the 8550 complaints filed against lawyers from 1975 through 1977, fewer than three percent resulted in any disciplinary action at all, and only one percent –77 cases- resulted in public punishment.

 Figures like these are causing a growing demand that the bar's grievance committee system of disciplining itself be abolished and handed over to outside regulators. Lawyers, however, insist this is unnecessary because they are now cleaning up the mess by themselves. Are they?

For the answer, it is first necessary to penetrate the almost total secrecy with which they have surrounded their peer review work.  Fortunately, during the 1970's the profession allowed the public to get to peeks behind this screen.

      Silverman's bomb. In 1975.  A panel headed by Wall Street lawyer Leon Silverman investigated the workings of the grievance committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York.  This committee, responsible for policing 35,000 New York City lawyers, has often been cited as the country's best peer review groups.  But Silverman report landed on it like a bomb.  Two of the reports findings: 

Almost all complaints came from clients,  the committee showed a distinct tendency to take the word of a lawyer over that of a client, even when a lawyer's record contained a long list of previous complaints.  The reports cited case after case in which serious complaints- theft of client funds, neglect of client cases, excessive fees, incompetence, bribery- were dismissed without any investigation at all, or with merely a phone call to the accused lawyer to ask him/her whether the complaint was true .  One typical case concerned a lawyer charge with falsifying documents, withholding client funds and lying about his fee.  The lawyer had a long history of similar complaints which had produced two official warnings and one formal charge of misconduct.  Nevertheless, without even investigating the complaint, the committee dismissed it as a "fee dispute". 

     Secrecy was another problem.  In New York (as in almost all states) it is illegal to give out any information about a complaint against a lawyer- even the fact that there is a complaint- unless the lawyer has been found guilty by the court.  This meant that almost everything the committee did was kept secret from the press, the public, and the rest of the Bar.

     From 1974 to 1975, the committee received 2,428 complaints.  Of these , the public learned about only four : Two that produced public suspension and two that produced disbarments. About 2300 complaints were secretly dismissed, and about 100 resulted secret reprimands.

      "It is little wonder," concluded the Silverman report, "that some attorneys do not impelled to be responsible to the disciplinary system a system that moves in secret, then winds up disciplining a minuscule percent of those whose conduct is complained about, can be neither effective nor credible." 

     Paper tiger. Are things any better in the rest of the country?  In 1970 the results of a three year nation wide study of lawyer discipline were published by a special panel of the American Bar Association chaired by former Supreme Court Justice Tom C. Clark.  Here's how the Clark report summed up its findings:  "This committee must report the existence of a scandalous situation.  With few exception, the prevailing attitude of lawyers toward disciplinary enforcement ranges from apathy to outright hostility." 

     Nationally, the Clark panel found, the grievance system was impoverished antique, operated by volunteer lawyers in their spare time, usually without adequate help or records, always in secret.  Indeed, the panels single out the New York committee- which at least kept records and had a paid staff- for special praise.  One witness said in small communities, where lawyers were all on a first name basis, discipline was "virtually impossible".

     Another witness called the discipline program a "paper tiger."  Case after case was cited of misconduct that either went unpunished or produced a secret slap on the offenders wrist.  Lawyers with long strings of complaints against them were repeated let off as "first offenders" simply because the committee had no record of previous complaints.  In some jurisdiction, even the rare lawyer who was disbared was allowed more appeals than a man convicted of murder and frequently the final disbarment was issued so quietly that the lawyer could stay in practice merely by moving to another jurisdiction.  (The Clark panel found so many disbared lawyers still practicing that it recommended establishment of a "national discipline data bank" to keep track of them.) 

     Whistling in the dark.  Of the 36 reforms recommended by the Clark panel, one in particular put the finger on the real reason for the system's near total failure.  It involved this question: Who is in the best position to blow the whistle on crooked lawyers? 

     "Lawyers and judges", concluded the Clark committee, "are far better equipped then layman to recognize violations of professional standards.  However, relatively few complaints are submitted to disciplinary agencies by members of the profession.  This fact has been cited as a major problem by nearly every disciplinary agency of the United States" 

     One witness said lawyers contributed "about one percent" of the complaints his committee received.  As for judges, the state chairmen of another committee said he could count "on one hand the complaints his group has received from the bench during an eight year period. 

     Which brings us to the root of the matter.  Almost all complaints against lawyers come from the group that is least likely to report serious offenses: clients.  Their complaints most frequently involve fee disputes in minor cases (car accidents, divorces, etc.)  that are handled by neighborhood practitioners.  And, of course, clients never report lawyers who help them commit perjury, cheat on their income taxes, etc.  So, by and large, grievance committees do not hear of important violations of the law by big time lawyers. 

     Clearly, the profession is not disciplining itself.  Lawyers are leaving it to outsiders- nonprofessionals-to select their cases for them; in the process, they are catching only little fish.  And they are letting even the small fish off either with no punishment or with a secret and toothless warning not to do it again.

     In recent years, a long series of bribery, corruption, cover up and misconduct scandals has spread to distinguished corporate lawyers and law firms all over the United States. None of these scandals came out of the grievance committees (they all originated in Federal agencies, news papers or criminal courts), and only a few of the most outrageous resulted in public discipline. For all these reasons, demands are growing to junk self-regulation as a total failure.

      New Ball Game? But the profession insists this is unnecessary. Says John McNulty, a minneapolis lawyer who heads the ABA's Committee on Professional Discipline, "It is a whole new ball game today. There is no comparison between what we have now and what we had when the Clark report came out."

       What is the basis of this claim? Some of the more important Clark recommendations have been adopted by a few states. Five states, for instance, have relaxed secrecy requirements. Twenty states now allow laymen to sit on the disciplinary boards. And in at least three quarters of the states, more money is being spent for professional staffs and record keeping.

      But most jurisdictions have accomplished little else. For the past 4 years , the most extreme penalty, disbarment, has run a steady rate of only about 175 a year (for the nation's 450,000 lawyers) , and virtually every jurisdiction in the country has ignored what some observers see as the single most important reform suggested by the Clark panel: The imposition of discipline on lawyers and judges who observe misconduct by a lawyer but fail to report it.

     For nearly a decade the ABA's official Code of Professional Responsibility has held that lawyers should be subject to discipline if they do not report misconduct by other lawyers. But when asked how many grievance boards had ever enforced the rule, McNulty said he didn't know of any.

     How, then, can the grievance machinery be changed? The most obvious answer is to abolish the grievance committee system and bring in outside regulators. But that probably would not solve the problem. Lawyers and judges are the only ones who really know what is happening inside their club, and their cooperation in exposing is essential. How can they be forced to cooperate? A remarkable case now before the New York grievance committee may provide a solution.

      A lawyer for a prominent firm was stealing the firm's money, but nobody reported him to the grievance committee. He was subsequently appointed to a high post in the city government. When Mayor Edward Koch learned of the man's crime, he took an unprecedented action. He thrust the city government into the grievance system as a third party, registering a complaint with the committee. The complaint was not against the lawyer himself, but against the senior partner of the firm, for failing to report the matter.

       The case shows that, if the peers themselves won't put the finger on the rotten apples in their barrel, outsiders maybe able to force them to do it.  And the outsider can be anyone interested in cleaning up the profession, including government agencies, citizens' groups and even individuals.

     Of course, the mere injection of outsiders won't do the trick by itself.  It's also essential to speed up the professions turtle slow efforts to reform the grievance hearing process.  The three most urgently needed reforms are to wipe out unnecessary secrecy, put more layman on the hearing panels   and provide the system wit enough money for professional investigating and prosecuting staffs.

     There's nothing sacred about the legal professions private system of justice.  If lawyers do not try to make it work, there are others who can, and in all probability will.      

Why is there a system of protection for attorneys who deliberately betrays a trust, robs and destroys lives and families just because they have a law degree?

Dear Citizens:
The citizens of America are being deprived of their legal and Constitutional Rights by a small segment of the legal system by some Lawyers, Judges and Politicians.

Theses individuals are highly trained in Law, Banking, Insurance, Real Estate and Estate Administration. They have Degree(s) from the best universities.

Many have 5-30 years experience and are members of enormously sophisticated law firms of 10-100 associates and partners and have the best technology available that can provide the latest research material within minutes. With such sophistication, expertise and knowledge, in addition to the overall protection of the "Good Old Boy" mentality hey have the ability to manipulate, alter and ignore the very laws of the system they swore to enforce and protect.

It is became very obvious from current issues involving the Judicial system, that when a few of the highly select and influential officials commit Civil, Criminal and Fraudulent violations against Citizens, the Bar Association and their Profession, they ignore and refuse to enact laws meant for the protection of the public in just this situation notwithstanding the fact, that when the violators are brought to the attention of the legal system, their first response is to defend and protect them before reviewing the facts. Even more outrageous and hurting is the fact, the trust, money, and confidence, even your life that is entrusted into their hands you have no other choice. Unfortunately, this trust is betrayed, violated sold out and deliberately abused.

The legal community has taken away not only the laws meant for the public protection, but has proceeded to enact with no other function except to protect these violators, example 9.5506 has no other purpose except to protect lawyers when they use their expert knowledge and experience to betray, commit fraud and deliberately rob and fleece the poor. The public is charged with recognizing the law and its application regardless of their ability or handicap.

To pit a layman (Citizen) against these superior skills, expertise and knowledge, to the point of denying him his constitutional and legal rights. Not to mention his civl rights is unconscionable, unfair, and a travesty against the public order.

Unlawful banking deals are deliberately made while fleecing estates of the poor and uninformed.

Citizens are being robbed and betrayed while suffering and experiencing great losses. Lives are being destroyed by these unlawful individuals with high influential and knowledgeable expertise of the law.

The trusting citizens becomes the victim of these gross and deliberate violators due to no training, limited and no knowledge of the law which the legal system used to shield themselves, in addition to the trust and confidence exquisitely place in his high and well trained counsel of the law.

It seems no matter what the offense or crime, even the circumstances such as ignorance, mental incompetence, inability to bring your case or even the innocence of a minor is to be protected. These highly trained individuals are allowed to use their skills, trust, confidence and expertise to rob, steal and unjustly enrich themselves, even while getting paid by their trusting clients. After one and three years they loose their constitutional, legal and civil rights

These criminal acts and civil violations go unpunished and the courts continuously refuses to accept actions against them. The perpetrators are allowed to continue to harrass and prosecute an unlawful act upon innocent victims and citizens by perjury, lies, misstated facts and deliberate refusal to apply all rights and laws with total disregard for truth and justice. All of this is done and carried out under "Color of Law and Justice".

Whereas the victim has no recourse whatsoever. The laws are inacted and changed to protect the violators. This is unmitigated evidence as to the protectors of the victims are the violators that are entrusted to protect and serve the victims and citizens by these sworn officers. These courts pass judgment on unsuspecting and trusting citizens absolutely contrary to law and justice. This is the greatest legal abuse imaginable to perpetrate on the public. This goes beyond the common criminal with a gun as his choice of weapon does not prescribe, however you are deprived of your money, property and rights just the same with no recourse.

Join Us In Correcting Injustice!
Your contribution financial and otherwise is desperatly needed!

Louisiana Case Law 050772


    [197] (6)  Engage in any other conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law.

    [198] DR 7-102 (A), (B) Representing a client within the bounds of Law.

    [199] (A) In his representation of  a client,  a  lawyer  shall not:

      [200] (1) File a suit, assert a position, conduct a defense, delay a trial, or take other action on behalf of his client when he knows or when it is obvious that such action would serve merely to harass or maliciously  injure another.

      [201] (2) Knowingly advance a claim or defense that is unwarranted under existing law, except that he may  advance such claim or defense if it can be supported by good faith argument for an extension, modification or reversal of existing law.

      [202] (3) Conceal or knowingly fail to disclose that which he is required by law to reveal.

      [203] (4) Knowingly use perjured testimony or false evidence.

      [204] (5) Knowingly, make a false statement of law or fact.

      [205] (6) Participate in the creation or preservation of evidence when he knows or it is obvious that the evidence is false.

      [206] (7) Counsel or assist his client in conduct that the lawyer knows to be illegal or fraudulent.

      [207] (8) Knowingly engage in other illegal conduct or conduct contrary to a Disciplinary Rule.

    [208] (B) A lawyer who receives information clearly establishing that:

      [209] (1) His client has, in the course of the representation, perpetrated a fraud upon a person or tribunal shall promptly call upon his client to rectify the same, and if  his client refuses or is unable to do so, he shall reveal the fraud to the affected person or tribunal.

      [210] (2) A person other than his client has perpetrated a fraud upon a tribunal shall promptly reveal the fraud to the tribunal.

[211] DR 9-102 Preserving Identity of Funds and Property of a client.

    [212] (A) All funds of clients paid to a lawyer or law firm, other than advances for costs and  expenses, shall be deposited in one or more identifiable bank accounts maintained in the state in which the law office

Rule 3.03
Candor Toward the Tribunal

A. A lawyer shall not knowingly:

  • make a false statement of material fact or law to a tribunal;
  • fail to disclose a fact to a tribunal when disclosure is necessary to avoid assisting a criminal or fraudulent act;
  • in an ex parte proceeding, fail to disclose to the tribunal an unprivileged fact which the lawyer reasonably believes should be known by that entity for it to make an informed decision;
  • fail to disclose to the tribunal authority in the controlling jurisdiction known to the lawyer to be directly adverse to the position of the client and not disclosed by opposing counsel; or
  • offer or use evidence that the lawyer knows to be false.

B. If a lawyer has offered material evidence and comes to know of its falsity, the lawyer shall make a good faith effort to persuade the client to authorize the lawyer to correct or withdraw the false evidence. If such efforts are unsuccessful, the lawyer shall take reasonable remedial measures, including disclosure of the true facts.

C.The duties stated in paragraphs (A) and (B) continue until remedial legal measures are no longer reasonably possible.


1. The advocate's task is to present the client's case with persuasive force. Performance of that duty while maintaining confidences of the client is qualified by the advocate's duty of candor to the tribunal.

Factual Representations by a Lawyer

2. An advocate is responsible for pleadings and other documents prepared for litigation, but is usually not required to have personal knowledge of matters asserted therein, for litigation documents ordinarily present assertions by the client, or by someone on the client's behalf, and not assertions by the lawyer. Compare Rule 3.01. However, an assertion purporting to be on the lawyer's own knowledge, as in an affidavit by the lawyer or a representation of fact in open court, may properly be made only when the lawyer knows the assertion is true or believes it to be true on the basis of a reasonably diligent inquiry. There are circumstances where failure to make a disclosure is the equivalent of an affirmative misrepresentation. The obligation prescribed in Rule 1.02(c) not to counsel a client to commit or assist the client in committing a fraud applies in litigation. See the Comments to Rules 1.02(c) and 8.04(a).

Misleading Legal Argument

3. Legal argument based on a knowingly false representation of law constitutes dishonesty toward the tribunal. A lawyer is not required to make a disinterested exposition of the law, but should recognize the existence of pertinent legal authorities. Furthermore, as stated in paragraph (a)(4), an advocate has a duty to disclose directly adverse authority in the controlling jurisdiction which has not been disclosed by the opposing party. The underlying concept is that legal argument is a discussion seeking to determine the legal premises properly applicable to the case.

Ex Parte Proceedings

4. Ordinarily, an advocate has the limited responsibility of presenting one side of the matters that a tribunal should consider in reaching a decision; the conflicting position is expected to be presented by the opposing party. However, in an ex parte proceeding, such as an application for a temporary restraining order, there is no balance of presentation by opposing advocates. The object of an ex parte proceeding is nevertheless to yield a substantially just result. The judge has an affirmative responsibility to accord the absent party just consideration. The lawyer for the represented party has the correlative duty to make disclosures of unprivileged material facts known to the lawyer if the lawyer reasonably believes the tribunal will not reach a just decision unless informed of those facts.

Anticipated False Evidence

5. On occasion a lawyer may be asked to place into evidence testimony or other material that the lawyer knows to be false. Initially in such situations, a lawyer should urge the client or other person involved to not offer false or fabricated evidence. However, whether such evidence is provided by the client or by another person, the lawyer must refuse to offer it, regardless of the client's wishes. As to a lawyer's right to refuse to offer testimony or other evidence that the lawyer believes is false, see paragraph 15 of this Comment.

6. If the request to place false testimony or other material into evidence came from the lawyer's client, the lawyer also would be justified in seeking to withdraw from the case. See Rules 1.15(a)(1) and (b)(2), (4). If withdrawal is allowed by the tribunal, the lawyer may be authorized under Rule 1.05(c)(7) to reveal the reasons for that withdrawal to any other lawyer subsequently retained by the client in the matter; but normally that rule would not allow the lawyer to reveal that information to another person or to the tribunal. If the lawyer either chooses not to withdraw or is not allowed to do so by the tribunal, the lawyer should again urge the client not to offer false testimony or other evidence and advise the client of the steps the lawyer will take if such false evidence is offered. Even though the lawyer does not receive satisfactory assurances that the client or other witness will testify truthfully as to a particular matter, the lawyer may use that person as a witness as to other matters that the lawyer believes will not result in perjured testimony.

Past False Evidence

7. It is possible, however, that a lawyer will place testimony or other material into evidence and only later learn of its falsity. When such testimony or other evidence is offered by the client, problems arise between the lawyer's duty to keep the client's revelations confidential and the lawyer's duty of candor to the tribunal. Under this Rule, upon ascertaining that material testimony or other evidence is false, the lawyer must first seek to persuade the client to correct the false testimony or to withdraw the false evidence. If the persuasion is ineffective, the lawyer must take additional remedial measures.

8. When a lawyer learns that the lawyer's services have been improperly utilized in a civil case to place false testimony or other material into evidence, the rule generally recognized is that the lawyer must disclose the existence of the deception to the court or to the other party, if necessary rectify the deception. See paragraph (b) and Rule 1.05(h). See also Rule 1.05(g). Such a disclosure can result in grave consequences to the client, including not only a sense of betrayal by the lawyer but also loss of the case and perhaps a prosecution for perjury. But the alternative is that the lawyer would be aiding in the deception of the tribunal or jury, thereby subverting the truth-finding process which the adversary system is designed to implement. See Rule 1.02(c). Furthermore, unless it is clearly understood that the lawyer will act upon the duty to disclose the existence of false evidence, the client can simply reject the lawyer's advice to reveal the false evidence and insist that the lawyer keep silent. Thus the client could in effect coerce the lawyer into being a party to fraud on the court.

Perjury by a Criminal Defendant

9. Whether an advocate for a criminally accused has the same duty of disclosure has been intensely debated. While it is agreed that in such cases, as in others, the lawyer should seek to persuade the client to refrain from suborning or offering perjurious testimony or other false evidence, there has been dispute concerning the lawyer's duty when that persuasion fails. If the confrontation with the client occurs before trial, the lawyer ordinarily can withdraw. Withdrawal before trial may not be possible, however, either because trial is imminent, or because the confrontation with the client does not take place until the trial itself, or because no other counsel is available.

10. The proper resolution of the lawyer's dilemma in criminal cases is complicated by two considerations. The first is the substantial penalties that a criminal accused will face upon conviction, and the lawyer's resulting reluctance to impair any defenses the accused wishes to offer on his own behalf having any possible basis in fact. The second is the right of a defendant to take the stand should he so desire, even over the objections of the lawyer. Consequently, in any criminal case where the accused either insists on testifying when the lawyer knows that the testimony is perjurious or else surprises the lawyer with such testimony at trial, the lawyer's effort to rectify the situation can increase the likelihood of the client's being convicted as well as opening the possibility of a prosecution for perjury. On the other hand, if the lawyer does not exercise control over the proof, the lawyer participates, although in a merely passive way, in deception of the court.

11. Three resolutions of this dilemma have been proposed. One is to permit the accused to testify by a narrative without guidance through the lawyer's questioning. This compromises both contending principles; it exempts the lawyer from the duty to disclose false evidence but subjects the client to an implicit disclosure of information imparted to counsel. Another suggested resolution is that the advocate be entirely excused from the duty to reveal perjury if the perjury is that of the client. This solution, however, makes the advocate a knowing instrument of perjury.

12. The other resolution of the dilemma, and the one this Rule adopts, is that the lawyer must take reasonable remedial measure which may include revealing the client's perjury. A criminal accused has a right to the assistance of an advocate, a right to testify and a right of confidential communication with counsel. However, an accused should not have a right to assistance of counsel in committing perjury. Furthermore, an advocate has an obligation, not only in professional ethics but under the law as well, to avoid implication in the commission of perjury or other falsification of evidence.

False Evidence Not Introduced by the Lawyer

13. A lawyer may have introduced the testimony of a client or other witness who testified truthfully under direct examination but who offered false testimony or other evidence during examination by another party. Although the lawyer should urge that the false evidence be corrected or withdrawn, the full range of obligation imposed by paragraphs (a)(5) and (b) of this Rule do not apply to such situations. A subsequent use of that false testimony or other evidence by the lawyer in support of the client's case, however, would violate paragraph (a)(5).

Duration of Obligation

14. The time limit on the obligation to rectify the presentation of false testimony or other evidence varies from case to case but continues as long as there is a reasonable possibility of taking corrective legal actions before a tribunal.

Refusing to Offer Proof Believed to be False

15. A lawyer may refuse to offer evidence that the lawyer reasonably believes is untrustworthy, even if the lawyer does not know that the evidence is false. That discretion should be exercised cautiously, however, in order not to impair the legitimate interests of the client. Where a client wishes to have such suspect evidence introduced, generally the lawyer should do so and allow the finder of fact to assess its probative value. A lawyer's obligations under paragraphs (a)(2), (a)(5) and (b) of this Rule are not triggered by the introduction of testimony or other evidence that is believed by the lawyer to be false, but not known to be so.



Citizens Against Legal Abuse
P.O. Box 51386
New Orleans, LA 70151-1386
(504) 821-9580
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 Citizens Against  Legal Abuse, Inc.


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