15.05 Violations of Duties Owed to the Legal System

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A. False Statements, Fraud, and Misrepresentation

Absent aggravating or mitigating circumstances, and upon application of the factors set out in Rule 15.02, the following sanctions are generally appropriate in cases involving conduct that impedes the administration of justice or that involves dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation to a court or another:

1. Disbarment is generally appropriate when a Respondent, with the intent to deceive the court or another, makes a false statement, submits a false document, or improperly withholds material information, and causes serious or potentially serious injury to a party, or causes a significant or potentially significant adverse effect on the legal proceeding.

2. Suspension is generally appropriate when a Respondent knows that false statements or documents are being submitted to the court or another or that material information is improperly being withheld, and takes no remedial action, and causes injury or potential injury to a party, or causes an adverse or potentially adverse effect on the legal proceeding.

3. Public reprimand is generally appropriate when a Respondent is negligent either in determining whether statements or documents are false or in taking remedial action when material information is being withheld, and causes injury or potential injury to a party, or causes an adverse or potentially adverse effect on the legal proceeding.

4. Private reprimand is generally appropriate when a Respondent engages in an isolated instance of negligence in determining whether submitted statements or documents are false or in failing to disclose material information upon learning of its falsity, and causes little or no actual or potential injury to a party, or causes little or no adverse or potentially adverse effect on the legal proceeding.

B. Abuse of the Legal Process

Absent aggravating or mitigating circumstances, and upon application of the factors set out in Rule 15.02, the following sanctions are generally appropriate in cases involving failure to bring a meritorious claim, failure to minimize the burdens and delays of litigation, lack of fairness in adjudicatory proceedings, improper extrajudicial statements, improper means involving third persons, or improper discriminatory activities:

1. Disbarment is generally appropriate when a Respondent knowingly engages in an abuse of the legal process with the intent to obtain a benefit for the Respondent or another, and causes serious injury or potentially serious injury to a client or other party or causes serious or potentially serious interference with a legal proceeding.

2. Suspension is generally appropriate when a Respondent knows that he or she is abusing the legal process, and causes injury or potential injury to a client or other party, or causes interference or potential interference with a legal proceeding.

3. Public reprimand is generally appropriate when a Respondent negligently engages in conduct involving an abuse of the legal process, and causes injury or potential injury to a client or other party, or causes interference or potential interference with a legal proceeding.

4. Private reprimand is generally appropriate when a Respondent engages in an isolated instance of negligence that involves an abuse of the legal process, and causes little or no actual or potential injury to a client or other party, or causes little or no actual or potential interference with a legal proceeding.

C. Improper Communications with Individuals in the Legal System

Absent aggravating or mitigating circumstances, and upon application of the factors set out in Rule 15.02, the following Sanctions are generally appropriate in cases involving attempts to influence a judge, juror, prospective juror or other official by means prohibited by law or rules of practice or procedure, or improper communications with one represented by counsel or unrepresented individuals:

1. Disbarment is generally appropriate when a Respondent:

  • (a) intentionally tampers with a witness and causes serious or potentially serious injury to a party, or causes significant or potentially significant interference with the outcome of the legal proceeding; or
  • (b) makes an ex parte communication with a judge or juror with intent to affect the outcome of the proceeding, and causes serious or potentially serious injury to a party, or causes significant or potentially significant interference with the outcome of the legal proceeding; or
  • (c) improperly communicates with someone in the legal system other than a witness, judge, or juror with the intent to influence or affect the outcome of the proceeding, and causes significant or potentially significant interference with the outcome of the legal proceeding.

2. Suspension is generally appropriate when a Respondent engages in communication with an individual in the legal system when the Respondent knows or should know that such communication is improper, and causes injury or potential injury to a party or causes interference or potential interference with the
outcome of the legal proceeding.

3. Public reprimand is generally appropriate when a Respondent is negligent in determining whether it is proper to engage in communication with an individual in the legal system, and causes injury or potential injury to a party or interference or potential interference with the outcome of the legal proceeding.

4. Private reprimand is generally appropriate when a Respondent engages in an isolated instance of negligence in improperly communicating with an individual in the legal system, and causes little or no actual or potential injury to a party, or causes little or no actual or potential interference with the outcome of the legal proceeding.

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