What are considered unethical practice by an opposing attorney? 30 Answers as of July 12, 2013

If an attorney threatens me or anyone I am associated with is this considered unethical? If an attorney fails to inform me of a court date, that they set up, is it considered unethical?

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Lacy Fields, Attorney at Law, LLC
Lacy Fields, Attorney at Law, LLC | Lacy Fields
Very generally: yes to the first and no to the second. But it depends in very large part on the specific facts. It is not worth it to most attorneys to do something unethical against you personally that could get the attorney in troubleespecially when you are 1 of 100 clients. Why risk getting in trouble when there are so many more fish in the sea, know what I mean? Most of us just walk away when we get fed up with a client.
Answer Applies to: Missouri
Replied: 6/15/2011
Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
Threatening a witness or a party is against the law. Failure to give notice is against the constitution.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 6/13/2011
Law Office of Phillip Weiser
Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
An attorney should communicate all court dates with you and work in your best interest. If there is not a good working relationship between you and him, you should consider replacing him. If you believe you have received unethical treatment, you could file a complaint with the state disciplinary office.
Answer Applies to: Kansas
Replied: 6/10/2011
Harris Law Firm
Harris Law Firm | Jennifer C. Robins
Questions regarding ethics should be directed at your local state bar association. They will be able to advise you properly. If opposing counsel on a civil or family matter failed to advise you of a court date they scheduled, that could very well be an ethics violation.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 6/10/2011
Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law
Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law | Thomas J. Tomko
Your question is somewhat general, however, the opposing attorney does not have an attorney client relationship with you. Therefore, claims that the opposing attorney did threatened trial or to file a motion or to seek to take certain property or the like are not viewed as breaches in the duties to you, since the other attorney does not have such duties to you. Your attorney can address all of these things. In any case, the opposing side needs to provide notice for most Court proceedings. There are exceptions, however, this is the general rule. You should address all of these concerns to your attorney for more detailed explanations.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 6/9/2011
    Law Office of Richard Williams
    Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
    There are rules governing the professional conduct of lawyers.The rules of Professional Conduct can be found in The Alabama Rules of Court and a copy can be found at any county law library in the county courthouse.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 6/8/2011
    Nelson & Lawless
    Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
    Threats of violence or extortion would be improper, and grounds for Complain to the State Bar, if you can prove it with witnesses or documents. However, threats of kicking your butt in court, or telling you he is going to stick it to you and enforce all the rules and procedures against you, is NOT an improper threat, but vigorous representation, merely playing hard ball. That's what he is paid to do - oppose your claims and make your life miserable. It may be ungentlemanly and unfriendly, but nobody said litigation had to be friendly. Pro Pers generally don't know about the rules and what they are supposed to do, and think they are going to get a break and sympathy from the court and attorneys because of their ignorance, and don't want to be told to learn and do it or else. If that is what you are considering threats, then toughen up and deal with the case better. If it is more than that, then you can contact the State Bar office to discuss your allegations. Failure to provide proper notice of hearings or other actions is wrong and grounds for serious complaint, if you can prove it. I suggest to you that he probably has filed Proof of Service forms signed by his staff showing you were served required documents and notices; the court requires that before any hearing or ruling. If none are in the court file, or you can somehow show they are falsified, then your complaint may have merit. If that lack of notice you claim resulted in some adverse action in a hearing or ruling, then you could file motions requesting rehearings or reconsideration based upon lack. The burdens of proof and procedures are upon you.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/8/2011
    Komanapalli Massey LLP
    Komanapalli Massey LLP | Mark A. Massey, Esq.
    You have provided too little information to allow me to state an answer unequivocally. However, your attorney owes you a duty of loyalty, a duty to keep you informed about your case, and other duties. This does not mean he may never firmly direct you down a course in which it is your best interests to follow. As for dates, if his failure to inform you caused you harm or jeopardized the likely success of your case, he may have violated ethical or other duties to you.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/8/2011
    Harden Law Offices
    Harden Law Offices | Leonard D. Harden
    Opposing counsel should not contact you if you are represented. In terms of notice re court, the court should notify you or your attorney. I have to believe a lawyer must tell his client of a court date.
    Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
    Replied: 6/8/2011
    Law Office of Jonathan T. Sarre
    Law Office of Jonathan T. Sarre | Jonathan T. Sarre
    The answer is going to depend in the nature of the threat, or really if the threat is really a threat. What I mean is that if this "opposing counsel" is a prosecutor and he or she is threatening with say, sending you to jail for longer than the plea offer or charging you with a heretofore uncharged crime or threatens to charge your witnesses with perjury and he or she can back up those threats either by force of law (in other words by doing something the law allows him or her to do), then it's not really a threat, its more like negotiating (albeit hardball negotiating). Now if he or she threatens to murder your grandmother, well that's going to cross the line... As far as your second question, failing to inform you of a court date is not unethical per se. It may be a lapse or just incompetence. It probably doesn't reach the ethics realm until or unless the attorney lies about it. That's usually when ethics (or lack thereof) kick in.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 6/8/2011
    Edward  D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law
    Edward D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law | Edward D. Dowling IV
    There can be many types of conduct that is considered unethical such as lying, deceiving, conflict of interest, criminal conduct, etc. If it is your own attorney who refuses to tell you the court date, that is unethical.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/8/2011
    Law Office of Tracey S. Sang
    Law Office of Tracey S. Sang | Tracey Sang
    I would say yes to both examples, the first obviously more serious. Ethical violations should be reported to the Bar.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/8/2011
    Austin Legal Services, PLC
    Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
    It depends on what you mean by "threat." Many people wrongly assume that if an attorney "threatens" to do something within the bounds of the law that that is illegal. For example, if an attorney says, "take our offer or else we'll sue you in court" or "else we'll add more counts...", etc. As long as he can legally do what he is saying he will do, that is not a threat and perfectly allowed. If he is truly threatening, i.e. harming your children or doing bodily harm to you, then that is not only unethical to say the least, but also illegal. Attorneys are supposed to keep their clients and opposing attorneys informed of any court dates that they arrange or get notice of. To not do so is not really unethical, it's just sloppy lawyering. Without proper notice, the hearing will probably have to be adjourned and if a judgment was entered without proper and timely notice, it can easily get set aside. If the attorney is persistent in this behavior it exposed him to possible sanctions from the court or even from the bar association. It also gives you very good grounds to terminate him.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/8/2011
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly | Brendan M. Kelly
    An attorney should never threaten anyone. If you have an attorney they should be made aware of court dates, if you represent yourself they are required to send you notice on any hearings.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 6/8/2011
    Timothy J. Thill P.C.
    Timothy J. Thill P.C. | Timothy J. Thill
    I would advise you to contact the Disciplinary board of the State where you are living, to file a complaint or inquiry about the conduct of attorneys, this is not in my field of criminal or traffic law. However, a lawyer threatening you with bodily harm definitely could be unethical, but merely threatening to take legal actions against you is not. Also, if the attorney who fails to represent you fails to inform you of a court date, this is not unethical, but is the subject of a negligence lawsuit, possibly. If the attorney is opposing attorney to you, then you have a remedy by filing a motion to dismiss the case for failure to notify you of the court date. Again, I would suggest you retain a lawyer who practices civil law, as opposed to criminal law.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 6/8/2011
    Michael Anthony Wing, P.C.
    Michael Anthony Wing, P.C. | Michael Anthony Wing
    The opposing counsel owes no duty to you except to communicate through your lawyer or to not threaten criminal prosecution as leverage in a civil action. Stay well.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 6/8/2011
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    An attorney must advise the opposing party of a court date before it occurs. In fact, the opposing party must be served with a notification, usually in the form of a Notice of Motion and Motion.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 6/8/2011
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C.
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C. | Craig Elhart
    An attorney should act in a professional manner. However, attorneys are human too. As for the threat, what was actually threatened? It may be that the conduct bordered on unethical but more information would need to be known. When a court date is set, a notice must be sent to all parties involved. If a person is represented by an attorney, the notice would be sent to the attorney. If a person is not represented, the notice would be sent to the person at his/her last known address. If a person moves and does not provide notice of the change of address, mailing to the last known address is all that is required by the Michigan Court Rules.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/8/2011
    Goolsby Law Office
    Goolsby Law Office | Richard Goolsby
    Before you contact the state bar to report an attorney, I would recommend that you discuss this matter (and all your rights and options) with your own lawyer. Good luck!
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/8/2011
    Lawrence Lewis
    Lawrence Lewis | Lawrence Lewis, PC
    In a criminal context this never happens because the opposing attorney is the prosecutor, and the clerk informs people of their court dates. So you have the incorrect forum for this question. See my website for other helpful answers.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/8/2011
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    Yes, both are unethical.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/7/2011
    The Law Offices of Robert L. Driessen
    The Law Offices of Robert L. Driessen | Robert L. Driessen
    Are you claiming that the DA threatened you or a defense attorney threatened you as you are a witness for the state. Clearly attorneys cannot threaten witnesses of either side. As far as being informed of a court date it depends upon why you are associated with the case.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/8/2011
    Michael Breczinski
    Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
    Are you representing yourself is my first question. Second is what were the content of the threats? if they say they are going to win the case then that is one thing, if they say they are going to have you killed then that is another. Also you ask about not being informed of a court date. Are you represented by an attorney? If so then they send that attorney notice of any court dates, THAT THEY SET UP. The opposition is not required to notify you of court dates that the court sets up. The court will send out notices. If you are representing yourself then the opposition is required to send you notice of any court date that they set up.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/7/2011
    Frances R. Johnson
    Frances R. Johnson | Frances R. Johnson
    There is not enough information included for me to give an accurate response. What do you consider to be a threat?
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 7/12/2013
    Marilyn J. Hochman
    Marilyn J. Hochman | Hochman and Peppler, LLC
    Yes and yes. If they threaten bodily harm it could be a criminal act. As the defendant, you should be at every court date unless your presence is waived in writing. If it was just a routine matter, then it may not matter. I routinely waive appearance at arraignment with a written plea of not guilty.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 6/7/2011
    Law Office of William S. Smith
    Law Office of William S. Smith | William S. Smith
    Both or these examples constitute unethical and improper behavior by an attorney. You should notify the court of this behavior.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 6/7/2011
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC | Timothy J. Klisz
    Maybe? There are way more facts needed to advise you on this issue.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 7/12/2013
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    Your summary states that the attorney did not inform you of a court date and an attorney threatened you. You have not given me enough information as to why the attorney did not inform you of the date, whether it is a criminal or civil case, what threat was made and by whom. You should give me many more details and I will be able to answer your questions. Your lawyer is supposed to keep you informed of court dates, but not if you were in court or received a letter from the court as to the next court date.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/8/2011
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