Texas Disciplinary Rules Referendum: Former Committee Member Urges “No” Vote
Harlingen, Texas criminal defense lawyer Larry Warner has been practicing law for 37 years. He served for three years on the State Bar Disciplinary Rules Committee charged with drafting the proposed rules. He served as a member of the Texas House of Representatives and has taught professional responsibility to law students. He is also board certified in criminal law.
For three years I was a member of the State Bar’s committee charged with drafting the proposed new disciplinary rules. After that experience, I strongly recommend a “No” vote on the referendum. The committee’s work did not result in any minority report. Dissent was not considered, tolerated, or forwarded to the Task Force/Committee meetings. In over 37 years of practicing law, including ten sessions as a member of the House of Representatives of Texas, I always had to know what the other side was going to say. If I was on the losing side at committee, at least we got to submit a minority report to the whole House on the floor and got to try again. As insurance defense counsel, plaintiff’s lawyer, prosecutor, and defender of those sentenced to death, my ability to represent my client properly and well depended on how well I knew the other side’s case. Lincoln’s advice to lawyers was “Encourage your clients to settle their disputes, there will be lawsuits enough.” Resolution of differing opinions depends upon respect for the opposition and a willingness to listen with an open mind with a view toward reaching a decision if one can be reached without violence to individual conscience and judgment. (Shades of jury instructions.) The Committee was presided over by a law professor. The settlement conferences among lawyers that Lincoln envisioned did not take place in the Committee. The chair seemed to have her marching instructions. General Sherman’s march to the sea comes to mind. The American Bar Association is to release another round of proposed new rules in 2012. We’ll have to do the entire process again then. The current draft is not ready for adoption. It is simply too flawed. Let’s defeat the referendum, and go back to the drawing board when the new ABA suggestions become available. And let’s open up the rule-making process to diverse viewpoints. In the long run, that approach will be cheaper and will make for better, sounder rules. Please vote “No” on this referendum.
If you haven’t voted yet, vote “No” today. If you voted yes, try to change your vote.
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