On October 29, 2013, the DAYL Judiciary Committee held its annual Dinner with the Judiciary at the Tower Club. One of the most anticipated events organized by the committee each year, the Dinner gives young attorneys an opportunity to mingle with the state and federal judges at a reception followed by a panel discussion of issues especially relevant to those who have not been in practice for very long.
This year’s distinguished panel included Magistrate Judge Irma Ramirez, Northern District of Texas; Judge Craig Smith, 192nd Judicial District Court; and Joe Cox, Partner at Bracewell & Giuliani and formerly Judge of the 160th Civil District Court. The panel, moderated by Monica Latin, partner at Carrington Coleman, addressed common ethics issues that young lawyers might encounter in drafting and responding to discovery as well as arguing in court.
If you were unable to attend the DAYL Dinner with the Judiciary, here are some practical tips from the panel regarding ethical issues that tend to pop up during litigation:
- Rule 3.03(a)(1) of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct prohibits a lawyer from “knowingly” making a false statement of material fact or law to a tribunal. Thus, any attorney should avoid making knowing misrepresentations to the court.
- Additionally, while “unknowing” misrepresentations do not violate Rule 3.03(a)(1), they can destroy credibility of the attorney who makes them. For example, an attorney who unknowingly misrepresents the client’s ability to search for relevant documents or the nature of client’s record-keeping system will very quickly loose credibility with the court, which can hurt the client’s chances of winning a discovery battle.
- Rule 3.03(a)(4) of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct prohibits a lawyer from “knowingly” failing to tell the court about legal authority in the controlling jurisdiction that is directly adverse to the position of the client and not disclosed by opposing counsel. Disclosing any such adverse authority will not only comply with the Rule, but – as stressed unanimously by the panel – will greatly enhance the attorney’s credibility with the court.
- With respect to drafting and responding to discovery, the panel encouraged the young attorneys to be more straightforward in their responses and objections, to tailor the discovery to each particular case and fact pattern, and to provide the court with any information that could help the judge resolve a discovery dispute fairly. The party who is the most helpful to the Court in explaining the issues and challenges raised by a particular discovery request or response is more likely to get the court to side with them.
The DAYL would like to thank the following judges for attending the event and for their continued support of the DAYL: Justice Ada Brown, Fifth Court of Appeals; Judge Tena Callahan, 302nd Family District Court; Judge Roberto Cañas, County Criminal Court No. 10; Judge Carlos Cortez, 44th Civil District Court; Justice Robert Fillmore, Fifth Court of Appeals; Judge Carl Ginsberg, 193rd Civil District Court; Judge Martin Hoffman, 68th Civil District Court; Judge Peggy Hoffman, County Criminal Court No. 9; Judge Johnese Howard, Family Court Associate Judge; Judge Jim Jordan, 160th Civil District Court; Judge Gracie Lewis, Criminal District Court No. 3; Justice David Lewis, Fifth District Court of Appeals; Judge Phyllis Lister Brown, 162nd Civil District Court; Judge Marty Lowy, 101st Civil District Court; Judge James Martin, 254th Family District Court; Judge Sheryl McFarlin, Civil District Associate Judge; Judge Michael E. Miller, County Probate Court No. 3; Judge Eric Moyé, 14th Civil District Court; Judge Tonya Parker, 116th Civil District Court; Judge John Peyton, Associate Probate Judge; Judge Andrea Plumlee, 330th Family District Court; Judge Douglas Skemp, County Criminal Court No. 3; Judge Brenda Hull Thompson, Presiding Probate Judge; Judge Ken Tapscott, County Court at Law No. 4; and Commissioner Theresa Daniel.
The DAYL would like to give a special thank you to Grant Thornton for sponsoring this year’s Dinner with the Judiciary. Grant Thornton is the fifth-largest public accounting firm in the Metroplex and can provide including Forensic and Valuation Services. As part of its Forensic and Valuation Services platform, Grant Thornton can offer expert advice and assistance in the following practice areas of: anti-corruption, fraud and investigation, litigation and dispute, forensic technology, and valuation.
In addition, DAYL thanks these law firms sponsors of the event: Andrews Kurth LLP; Baker & McKenzie LLP; Carrington, Coleman, Sloman & Blumenthal, L.L.P.; Cobb Martinez Woodward PLLC; Cowles & Thompson; Estes Okon Thorne & Carr PLLC; Fee, Smith, Sharp & Vitullo, LLP; Friedman & Feiger, LLP; Godwin Lewis PC; Gruber Hurst Johansen Hail Shank LLP; Haynes and Boone, LLP; Husch Blackwell LLP; Jackson Walker L.L.P.; K&L Gates; Kane Russell Coleman & Logan, P.C.; KASTL Law, PC; KoonsFuller, P.C.; Locke Lord LLP; Lynn Tillotson Pinker & Cox, LLP; McGuire, Craddock & Strother, P.C.; PayneMitchell Law Group; Sedgwick LLP; The Law Offices of Frank L. Branson, P.C.; Thompson Coe Cousins & Irons, LLP; and Thompson & Knight LLP.