STATE BAR APPROVES NEW ETHICS RULE ADDRESSING PROSECUTOR MISCONDUCT

Contact: Laura Ernde 

415-538-2283

barcomm@calbar.ca.gov

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 6, 2016 – The State Bar Board of Trustees has adopted a proposed new ethics rule regarding the special duties of prosecutors in criminal cases, specifically addressing their responsibility to disclose evidence to the defense. The rule must be approved by the California Supreme Court in order to take effect.

Proposed new rule 5-110, which is similar to American Bar Association Model Rule 3.8, requires broad disclosure of evidence the prosecutor knows or reasonably should know would be helpful to the defense.  

“Prosecutors should be held to high ethical standards not only to protect the rights of defendants but also to ensure public trust and confidence in the justice system,” State Bar President James P. Fox said. Fox spent nearly three decades as the elected district attorney for San Mateo County, but tried his only death penalty case on the defense side, when he was in private practice.

The proposed new rule will go to the Supreme Court in advance of a larger project to overhaul the Rules of Professional Conduct for the first time since the 1980s. The rules guide the legal profession in California and are used to protect the public. Attorneys who violate the rules are subject to discipline from the State Bar. Last year alone the State Bar processed nearly 16,000 complaints of violations of these and other rules.

The State Bar’s Commission for the Revision of the Rules of Professional Conduct, chaired by Justice Lee Edmon of the 2nd District Court of Appeal, has developed 68 new and amended rules to be finalized by the Board of Trustees and submitted to the court by the end of March 2017.

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The State Bar of California is an administrative arm of the California Supreme Court, protecting the public and seeking to improve the justice system for more than 80 years. All lawyers practicing law in California must be members of the State Bar. Membership now stands at about a quarter-million.