The Standard printed a letter on Feb. 9, “Utah needs an attorney ethics law,” in which the writer argues for the adoption of an ethics law for Utah’s attorneys. His
letter contains both inaccuracies and fabrications. Frankly, the readers deserve better.
The writer references and quotes from the “Utah Judicial Conduct Code.” The problem? There is no such thing. The Utah “Code of Judicial Conduct” is adopted by the Utah Supreme Court and governs the on-bench and off-bench behavior of Utah’s judges. It does not govern the behavior of attorneys, and it does not contain the quotation ascribed by the letter writer.
The writer claims that the Utah Judicial Conduct Commission “doesn’t enforce its code.” To the contrary, the commission actively investigates and resolves nearly 100 complaints each year. When appropriate, the commission recommends that the Utah Supreme Court sanction judges who have behaved unethically.
The writer also claims that commission staff “admits the commission has little disciplinary power.” To my knowledge, no one on the commission’s staff has ever spoken with this writer. However, it is true that the commission has no disciplinary power over attorneys. The behavior of Utah’s attorneys is governed by the Rules of Professional Conduct, also adopted by the Utah Supreme Court. The Utah State Bar’s Office of Professional Conduct——not the Judicial Conduct Commission—investigates and prosecutes allegations of misconduct by attorneys.
Readers who desire an accurate description of the commission’s work are invited to review the commission’s web site at www.jcc.utah.gov or call the commission office at (801) 626-3369 and actually speak with a staff member.
Utah Judicial Conduct Commission