RPC 8.3: REPORTING PROFESSIONAL MISCONDUCT

(a) A lawyer who knows that another lawyer or LLLT has committed a violation of the applicable Rules of Professional Conduct that raises a substantial question as to that lawyer's or LLLT's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer or LLLT in other respects, should inform the appropriate professional authority.

(b) A lawyer who knows that a judge has committed a violation of applicable rules of judicial conduct that raises a substantial question as to the judge's fitness for office should inform the appropriate authority.

(c) This Rule does not permit a lawyer to report the professional misconduct of another lawyer, judge or LLLT to the appropriate authority if doing so would require the lawyer to disclose information otherwise protected by Rule 1.6.

[Originally effective September 1, 1985; amended effective September 1, 2006; April 14, 2015.]

Comment

[1] [Washington revision] Lawyers are not required to report the misconduct of other lawyers, LLLTs, or judges. Self-regulation of the legal profession, however, creates an aspiration that members of the profession report misconduct to the appropriate disciplinary authority when they know of a serious violation of the applicable Rules of Professional Conduct. Lawyers have a similar aspiration with respect to judicial misconduct. An apparently isolated violation may indicate a pattern of misconduct that only a disciplinary investigation can uncover. Reporting a violation is especially important where the victim is unlikely to discover the offense. [Comment [1] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[2] [Reserved.]

[3] [Washington revision] While lawyers are not obliged to report every violation of the applicable Rules, the failure to report a serious violation may undermine the belief that the legal profession should be self- regulating. A measure of judgment is, therefore, required in deciding whether to report a violation. The term "substantial" refers to the seriousness of the possible offense and not the quantum of evidence of which the lawyer is aware. A report should be made whenever a lawyer's or LLLT's conduct raises a serious question as to the honesty, trustworthiness or fitness to practice. Similar considerations apply to the reporting of judicial misconduct. [Comment [3] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[4] [Washington revision] This Rule does not apply to a lawyer retained to represent a lawyer, LLLT, or judge whose professional conduct is in question. Such a situation is governed by the Rules applicable to the client-lawyer relationship. [Comment [4] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[5] [Washington revision] Information about a lawyer's, LLLT's, or judge's misconduct or fitness may be received by a lawyer in the course of that lawyer's participation in an approved lawyers or judges assistance program. In that circumstance, there is no requirement or aspiration of reporting. Admission to Practice Rule 19(b) makes confidential communications between lawyer-clients and staff or peer counselors of the Lawyers' Assistance Program (LAP) of the WSBA privileged. Likewise, Discipline Rule for Judges 14(e) makes confidential communications between judges and peer counselors and the Judicial Assistance Committees of the various judges associations or the LAP of the WSBA privileged. Lawyers and judges should not hesitate to seek assistance from these programs and to help prevent additional harm to their professional careers and additional injury to the welfare of clients and the public. [Comment [5] amended effective April 14, 2015.]

[Comments originally effective September 1, 1985; amended effective September 1, 2006.]

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