Thursday, January 26, 2017
Ind. Courts - More on "Supreme Court issued disciplinary opinion re Keith Henderson"
Updating a long line of ILB posts on Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson (here is the most recent), Henderson's Supreme Court reprimand has now become a case study in ABA/BNA Lawyers’ Manual on Professional Conduct™. Access the article here, written by Samson Habte. After an introduction, the article continues:
The disciplinary proceedings were noteworthy to professional responsibility lawyers because there are few published court opinions addressing one ethics rule Henderson allegedly violated.
That rule—which exists in some form in every U.S. jurisdiction except California—says lawyers can’t negotiate for the media rights to literary or cinematic works based on a case they are handling for a client or a case they have been asked to handle for a prospective client.
Voting unanimously, the Indiana Supreme Court held that Henderson did violate Indiana’s version of that standard, which is identical to ABA Model Rule 1.8(d).
But the court went on to impose a public reprimand in a brief opinion that disappointed bar authorities, who argued for a harsher sanction.
There are few reported disciplinary cases interpreting state versions of Model Rule 1.8(d), and one legal ethics treatise notes that “leading national commentators” give the rule “little or no attention.”
The treatise’s author, William J. Wernz, also wrote that the rule aims to eliminate the “severe conflicts” that can arise when a lawyer acquires the literary or media rights to portrayals of a client’s case before a representation has concluded. Minnesota Legal Ethics 455 (5th ed. 2015).
“A lawyer who foresees financial gain from publicizing a case would have an incentive to make the case sensational, or suspenseful, or to emphasize a client’s colorful but unseemly character traits or behavior,” Wernz wrote.