ABA Model Rule 8.4(g) Efforts in Connecticut

Status of Action in Connecticut

October 2020
The Connecticut Bar Association is considering ABA Model Rule 8.4(g).

Connecticut is one of the states that addresses bias and prejudice in the comment to the rules of professional conduct rather than in a black-letter rule. This comment predates passage of ABA Model Rule 8.4(g). 


Current Rule 8.4 Misconduct
It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to:

(1) violate or attempt to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct, knowingly assist or induce another to do so, or do so through the acts of another;

(2) commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects;

(3) engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation;

(4) engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice;

(5) state or imply an ability to influence improperly a government agency or official or to achieve results by means that violate the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law; or

(6) knowingly assist a judge or judicial officer in conduct that is a violation of applicable rules of judicial conduct or other law.

(P.B. 1978-1997, Rule 8.4.) (Amended June 26, 2006, to take effect Jan. 1, 2007.)

Current Comment
Lawyers are subject to discipline when they violate or attempt to violate the 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 lawyer’s behalf. Subdivision (1), however, does not prohibit a lawyer from advising a client concerning action the client is legally entitled to take. Many kinds of illegal conduct reflect adversely on fitness to practice law, such as offenses involving fraud and the offense of wilfull failure to file an income tax return. However, some kinds of offenses 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, which have no specific connection to fitness for the practice of law. Although a lawyer is personally answerable to the entire criminal law, a lawyer should be professionally answerable only for offenses that indicate lack of those characteristics relevant to law practice. Offenses involving violence, dishonesty, 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. Counseling or assisting a client with regard to conduct expressly permitted under Connecticut law is not conduct that reflects adversely on a lawyer’s fitness notwithstanding any conflict with federal or other law. Nothing in this commentary shall be construed to provide a defense to a presentment filed pursuant to Practice Book Section 2-41. A lawyer who, in the course of representing a client, knowingly manifests by words or conduct, bias or prejudice based upon race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status, violates subdivision (4) when such actions are prejudicial to the administration of justice. Legitimate advocacy respecting the foregoing factors does not violate subdivision (4). A lawyer may refuse to comply with an obligation imposed by law upon a good faith belief that no valid obligation exists. The provisions of Rule 1.2 (d) concerning a good faith challenge to the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law apply to challenges of legal regulation of the practice of law. Lawyers holding public office assume legal responsibilities going beyond those of other citizens. A lawyer’s abuse of public office can suggest an inability to fulfill the professional role of a lawyer. 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.