Viewing Single Post From: Friday August 30th Daily Discussion
Sep 1 2013, 12:56 AM
- Elite Member
- November 27, 2010
I don't believe that changes anything. It is still unethical conduct. Under the Model Rules of Professional Conduct (which is the basis for most state rules of ethics), it does not matter if the client represented by counsel initiates the communication with the attorney. The attorney must terminate the communication. In fact, the Department of Justice tried to push for a rule change about 10 to 15 years ago to allow prosecutors to speak with represented criminal defendants without counsel present if the defendant initiated the communication and gave a written or recorded waiver after receiving informed consent. That effort failed.
- Aug 31 2013, 11:57 PM
- Aug 31 2013, 11:36 PM
I'm not sure why it annoys me so much, since when have soaps held their characters to real-life professional standards (Daniel, the doctor who sleeps with his patients, anyone?). But the plea offer scenes really infuriated me because Melinda Trask would be disbarred if she did that in real life. It's legal ethics 101 that an attorney may not communicate with a person represented by an attorney without the attorney present. Sami's plea offer should have been communicated to Justin for him to discuss with Sami or there should have been a meeting with Justin present. For a prosecutor to just go to an accused's cell, make an offer, and pressure her to take it is about as clear a violation of the ethical rules as you can get. If Justin were written as a half-way competent attorney, the instant he learns about the plea offer, he should be in front of the judge demanding that Melinda (and probably most of her office) be disqualified from prosecuting Sami. And EJ, who also is an attorney, should have instantly raised holy hell when Sami told him that Justin didn't know about the plea.
The plea offer was done in Justin's presence, when Sami negotiated better terms she chose to do with without her attorney present.
The rule exists precisely because someone in a position like Sami's is very likely to panic about her case. To protect accused defendants from undermining their cases, particularly when they may not fully understand the implications of speaking directly with the opposing prosecutor, the communications are prohibited entirely.
Edited by jwsel
, Sep 1 2013, 02:38 AM.