Conduct guidelines issued for prosecutors and defense attorneys

The Supreme Court of Ohio Commission on Professionalism released a new best practices publication to promote professionalism among Ohio’s lawyers. The Professionalism Dos and Don’ts: Conduct of Prosecutors and Defense Attorneys lists a number of guidelines for lawyers on both sides of a criminal matter.

“The integrity of our criminal justice system depends a great deal on the professionalism of the lawyers who prosecute the cases and the lawyers who defend the accused,” Ohio State Bar Association member and Commission on Professionalism Secretary Lori Keating said. “This publication serves as a reminder that prosecutors and defense attorneys are officers of the court and should work diligently and respectfully as advocates.”

Keating added that the commission worked with criminal law practitioners nominated by the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association and the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers to prepare the list that includes a reminder to both prosecutors and defense attorneys to treat opposing counsel with the utmost professionalism, even when they disagree.

For prosecutors, some of the Dos and Don’ts include:

  • Do remember your job is not to “win,” but to help administer justice.
  • Do be realistic about the strengths and weaknesses of your case as it evolves and circumstances change. Be willing to adjust your position as justice requires.
  • Don’t be vindictive or punitive to defendants who are exercising their rights.
Included in the Dos and Don’ts for defense attorneys:

  • Do advocate creatively, but reasonably.  Remember that your credibility will affect this client and all of your clients, present and future.
  • Do contact the prosecutor with questions or concerns about discovery before filing a motion to compel or a motion for a continuance.
  • Don’t file motions that are frivolous, or file certain motions only because you believe such motions are usually filed, or file last-minute motions with respect to matters about which you have long been aware.
Keating said the new publication will be distributed today to about 400 prosecutors at the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association’s annual meeting, and at an event hosted by the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. The series of practices is being incorporated into professionalism continuing legal education seminars, distributed by judges to practitioners who come before them, and taught to law school students.

View the complete list of Professionalism Dos and Don’ts: Conduct of Prosecutors and Defense Attorneys.

Content courtesy of Court News Ohio.



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