Administration of justice, Attorneys General, professional duty, professional responsibility, legal ethics
The lawyer’s duty to encourage respect for the administration of justice remains largely amorphous and abstract. In this article, I draw lessons about this duty from historical instances in which Attorneys General inappropriately criticized judges. Not only are Attorneys General some of the highest-profile lawyers in the country, but they also face unique tensions and pressures that bring their duties as lawyers into stark relief. I focus on the two instances where law societies sought to discipline Attorneys General for such criticism of judges, as well as a more recent instance in which no discipline proceedings were pursued. I also consider the obligations of Attorneys General when other Ministers inappropriately criticize judges. I conclude that a lawyer must take all reasonable steps in the circumstances to confirm the factual and legal accuracy of any criticism of the judiciary; that law societies should allow reasonable but defined latitude for public criticism of judges; and that, where a client inappropriately criticizes the judiciary, their lawyer must make good-faith efforts to urge the client to discontinue and apologize for such criticism—and if those efforts are unsuccessful, the lawyer must repudiate that criticism themselves or withdraw.
Andrew Flavelle Martin, "The Lawyer’s Professional Duty to Encourage Respect for—And to Improve—the Administration of Justice: Lessons from Failures by Attorneys General" (2023) 54:2 Ottawa L Rev 247.
Ottawa L Rev