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8.04 Misconduct

(a) A lawyer shall not:

(1) violate these rules, knowingly assist or induce another to do so, or do so through the acts of another, whether or not such violation occurred in the course of a client-lawyer relationship;

(2) commit a serious crime or commit any other criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects;

(3) engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation;

(4) engage in conduct constituting obstruction of justice;

(5) state or imply an ability to influence improperly a government agency or official;

(6) knowingly assist a judge or judicial officer in conduct that is a violation of applicable rules of judicial conduct or other law;

(7) violate any disciplinary or disability order or judgment;

(8) fail to timely furnish to the Chief Disciplinary Counsel's office or a district grievance committee a response or other information as required by the Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure, unless he or she in good faith timely asserts a privilege or other legal ground for failure to do so;

(9) engage in conduct that constitutes barratry as defined by the law of this state;

(10) fail to comply with section 13.01 of the Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure relating to notification of an attorney's cessation of practice;

(11) engage in the practice of law when the lawyer is on inactive status or when the lawyer's right to practice has been suspended or terminated, including but not limited to situations where a lawyer's right to practice has been administratively suspended for failure to timely pay required fees or assessments or for failure to comply with Article XII of the State Bar Rules relating to Mandatory Continuing Legal Education; or

(12) violate any other laws of this state relating to the professional conduct of lawyers and to the practice of law.

(b) As used in subsection (a)(2) of this Rule, serious crime means barratry; any felony involving moral turpitude; any misdemeanor involving theft, embezzlement, or fraudulent or reckless misappropriation of money or other property; or any attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation of another to commit any of the foregoing crimes.

Comment:

1. There are three principal sources of professional obligations for lawyers in Texas: these Rules, the State Bar Act, and the State Bar Rules.  Article X, section 7 of the State Bar Rules contains a listing of the grounds for discipline under those Rules.

2. Rule 8.04 provides a comprehensive restatement of all forms of conduct that will subject a lawyer to discipline under either these Rules, the State Bar Act or the State Bar Rules. In that regard, Rule 8.04(a)(1) is intended to correspond to article X, section 7(1) of the State Bar Rules; Rules 8.04(a)(2) and 8.04(b) are intended to correspond to the provisions of article X, sections 7(8) and 26 of those Rules; and Rules 8.04(a)(7)-(10) are intended to correspond to article X, sections 7(3), 7(5), 7(6) and 7(7), respectively, of the State Bar Rules. Rule 8.04(a)(11) of these Rules corresponds to a prohibition that was contained in the last (unnumbered) paragraph of former article X, section 7.

3. The only two provisions of article X, section 7 not specifically referred to in Rule 8.04 are addressed by other Rules.  In particular, article X, section 7(2)’s provision for imposing discipline on an attorney here for conduct resulting in that lawyer’s discipline in another jurisdiction is provided for by Rule 8.05 of these Rules.  Similarly, article X, section 7(4)’s provision prohibiting a lawyer from failing either to provide information to a grievance or review committee, or to assert grounds for failure to do so, is made a subject of discipline by Rule 8.01 of these Rules.  Violations of either of those Rules, in turn, subjects a lawyer to discipline pursuant to Rule 8.04(a)(1).

4. Many kinds of illegal conduct reflect adversely on fitness to practice law. However, some kinds of offenses carry no such implication. Traditionally in this state, the distinction has been drawn in terms of “serious crimes” and other offenses. See Article X, sections 7(8) and 26 of the State Bar Rules.  These Rules continue that distinction by making only those criminal offenses either amounting to “serious crimes” or having the salient characteristics of such crimes the subject of discipline. See Rules 8.04(a)(2), 8.04(b).

5. Although a lawyer is personally answerable to the entire criminal law, a lawyer should be professionally answerable only for offenses that indicate lack of those characteristics relevant to his fitness for the practice of law, as “fitness” is defined in these Rules. A pattern of repeated offenses, even ones of minor significance when considered separately, can indicate indifference to legal obligations that legitimately could call a lawyer's overall fitness to practice into question.

6. A lawyer may refuse to comply with an obligation imposed by law upon a good faith belief, openly asserted, that no valid obligation exists. The provisions of Rule 1.02(d) concerning a good faith challenge to the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law apply to challenges to legal regulation of the practice of law.

7. Lawyers holding public office assume legal responsibilities going beyond those of other citizens. A lawyer's abuse of public office can suggest an inability to fulfill the professional role of attorney. The same is true of abuse of positions of private trust.
 

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