schumacher Protecting by wanghonghx


									Protecting the Court’s Integrity:
    A Staff Attorney’s Role

       Presented by Amy Schumacher
                June 2, 2010
Texas Association of Appellate Court Attorneys
 Context for an Ethics Discussion
Special relationship between the law clerk & Court
–   Serves as the Court’s & Judge’s attorney
–   Provides legal advice
–   Provides detailed knowledge of record
–   May have direct input into a judicial decision
–   May observe/participate in debate with Court members
–   Serves as an ambassador of the Court—and not just
    during office hours
The Court & your Judge depend on you!
     Education of Ethical
 Responsibilities: Early & Often
During Interviews
Upon Acceptance of Offer
Other Communications Prior to Start Date
Initial Orientation
Before First Argument
Follow-up Sessions (mid-year review)
After Any Possible Infractions
Staff Attorney as Ethics Facilitator

Introduce a Variety of Ethical Educators
 – Judges/Justices
 – Staff Attorneys
 – Other Staff Members
 – Former Law Clerks
 – Fellow Law Clerks
 – The Codes/Canons/Statutes
           Pick a Mantra
Protect the Integrity & Independence of
the Court
Avoid all Impropriety or Appearance of
W W [your initials] D?
    Orientation Format: RICO
Rule: Present a general rule or canon
Illustration: Give a practical example the
 staffer might actually encounter
Consequence: Describe how the rule
 protects the integrity of the court or effect
 an infraction has on the court or staffer
Open for Discussion: Try to engage the
 group—encourage ―what ifs‖
Inadvertent disclosure
– Law clerk happy hour on Congress Avenue
  during legislative session
– General description of legal issues on
– Oral argument behavior/attendance
– Post-clerkship war stories
– Personal email accounts & computers
      Conflicts of Interest
Direct: law clerk worked on the case
during employment
Employer: case before the Court was
pending in a court during law clerk’s
Prospective employer: Law clerk’s
prospective employer/spouse’s employer
is counsel on the case
Family/financial interest
       Conflicts of Interest
Conflicts Worksheet & Interview
Summary of Conflicts to Staff & Judge
Responsibility of Law Clerk to:
– Always check the briefs!
– Update conflicts (interview season)
– Clean personal computer files/emails
– Manage conflicts as part of ongoing
  professional obligation
    Prospective Employers &
Accept nothing that may be perceived as
intending to influence
Accept no monetary benefits during
clerkship (reimbursements, bonuses,
moving expenses)
Accept no bonuses prior to clerkship
Reasonable meals, travel to prospective
place of employment are OK
   Outside Interests/Activities
Does the Activity
– Detract from the dignity of the office?
– Interfere with performance of Court duties?
– Exploit the position with the Court?
Sensitive Issues
– Political involvement
– Writing on issues pending before the Court
    Ethical Judicial Writing
Stress importance of proper citation and
attribution—Judge’s reputation at stake
Clear & accurate recitation of facts as
supported by the record
Not influenced by personal bias or
       After the Clerkship
Mandatory Ethics Follow-Up at Term’s End
List of Pending Matters
Writing Samples
  Special Issues with Interns
Limit electronic access
Limit file access
Limit physical access
Ensure cleaning of electronic files on
personal computer & emails containing
Court material
Enlist law clerks to help supervise
confidentiality & conflicts
         Sources of Ethics for
          Judicial Legal Staff
Texas Code of Judicial Conduct
Code of Conduct for Law Clerks & Staff
Attorneys of the Supreme Court of Texas
Texas Ethics Commission
Your Judge/Court
           Sources of Ethics for
            Judicial Legal Staff
  Code of Conduct for United States Judges
  Code of Conduct for Judicial Employees
  ―Maintaining the Public Trust—Ethics for
  Federal Judicial Law Clerks,‖ Federal
  Judicial Center 2002

 Thank you!

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