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RULE 19-308.4. MISCONDUCT (8.4)

West's Annotated Code of MarylandMaryland Rules

West's Annotated Code of Maryland
Maryland Rules
Title 19. Attorneys
Chapter 300. Maryland Attorneys' Rules of Professional Conduct
Maintaining the Integrity of the Profession [Rules 19-308.1 to 19-308.5]
MD Rules Attorneys, Rule 19-308.4
RULE 19-308.4. MISCONDUCT (8.4)
It is professional misconduct for an attorney to:
(a) violate or attempt to violate the Maryland Attorneys' Rules of Professional Conduct, knowingly assist or induce another to do so, or do so through the acts of another;
(b) commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the attorney's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as an attorney in other respects;
(c) engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation;
(d) engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice;
(e) knowingly manifest by words or conduct when acting in a professional capacity bias or prejudice based upon race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status when such action is prejudicial to the administration of justice, provided, however, that legitimate advocacy is not a violation of this section;
(f) state or imply an ability to influence improperly a government agency or official or to achieve results by means that violate the Maryland Attorneys' Rules of Professional Conduct or other law; or
(g) knowingly assist a judge or judicial officer in conduct that is a violation of applicable rules of judicial conduct or other law.
[1] Attorneys are subject to discipline when they violate or attempt to violate the Maryland Attorneys' Rules of Professional Conduct, knowingly assist or induce another to do so or do so through the acts of another, as when they request or instruct an agent to do so on the attorney's behalf. Section (a) of this Rule, however, does not prohibit an attorney from advising a client concerning action the client is legally entitled to take.
[2] Many kinds of illegal conduct reflect adversely on fitness to practice law, such as offenses involving fraud and the offense of willful failure to file an income tax return. However, some kinds of offense carry no such implication. Traditionally, the distinction was drawn in terms of offenses involving “moral turpitude.” That concept can be construed to include offenses concerning some matters of personal morality, such as adultery and comparable offenses, that have no specific connection to fitness for the practice of law. Although an attorney is personally answerable to the entire criminal law, attorney should be professionally answerable only for offenses that indicate lack of those characteristics relevant to law practice. Offenses involving violence, dishonesty, or breach of trust, or serious interference with the administration of justice are in that category. A pattern of repeated offenses, even ones of minor significance when considered separately, can indicate indifference to legal obligation.
[3] Sexual misconduct or sexual harassment involving colleagues, clients, or co-workers may violate section (d) or (e) of this Rule. This could occur, for example, where coercion or undue influence is used to obtain sexual favor in exploitation of these relationships. See Attorney Grievance Commission v. Goldsborough, 330 Md. 342 (1993). See also Rule 19-301.7 (1.7).
[4] Section (e) of this Rule reflects the premise that a commitment to equal justice under the law lies at the very heart of the legal system. As a result, even when not otherwise unlawful, an attorney who, while acting in a professional capacity, engages in the conduct described in section (e) of this Rule and by so doing prejudices the administration of justice commits a particularly egregious type of discrimination. Such conduct manifests a lack of character required of members of the legal profession. A trial judge's finding that peremptory challenges were exercised on a discriminatory basis does not alone establish a violation of this rule. A judge, however, must require attorneys to refrain from the conduct described in section (e) of this Rule. See Md. Rule 18-102.3.
[5] An attorney may refuse to comply with an obligation imposed by law upon a good faith belief that no valid obligation exists. The provisions of Rule 19-301.2 (d) (1.2) 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.
[6] Attorneys holding public office assume legal responsibilities going beyond those of other citizens. A attorney'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 such as trustee, executor, administrator, guardian, agent and officer, director or manager of a corporation or other organization.
Model Rules Comparison: Rule 19-308.4 (8.4) is substantially similar to the language of the Ethics 2000 Amendments to the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, with the exception of adding Rule 19-308.4 (e) (8.4) and redesignating the subsections of Rule 19-308.4 (8.4) as appropriate, adding Comment [4] above, and retaining Comment [3] above from existing Maryland language.


[Adopted June 6, 2016, eff. July 1, 2016.]
MD R Attorneys, Rule 19-308.4, MD R ATTORNEYS Rule 19-308.4
Current with amendments received through May 1, 2024. Some sections may be more current, see credits for details.
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