ABA issues formal opinion providing guidance to supervisory prosecutors

 The American Bar Association Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility has issued a formal opinion that explains that prosecutors with managerial authority must adopt reasonable policies and procedures to ensure that lawyers and nonlawyers they supervise comply with the ABA Models Rules of Professional Conduct.


Formal Opinion 467 specifically mentions Model Rule 5.1 and Model Rule 5.3 that require lawyers with managerial authority and supervisory lawyers to make “reasonable efforts to ensure” that their offices comply with the Model Rules. The new opinion makes clear that public prosecutors also have that responsibility.

“In recent years, reports, court opinions and other authorities have drawn attention to prosecutorial misconduct — notwithstanding the many excellent prosecutors who scrupulously follow or exceed the mandates of the Rules of Professional Conduct,” the committee said in the Formal Opinion. “These reports, opinions and authorities suggest a need for more guidance.”  

The ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility periodically issues ethics opinions to guide lawyers, courts and the public in interpreting and applying ABA model ethics rules to specific issues of legal practice, client-lawyer relationships and judicial behavior.

Formal Opinion 467 and other ABA ethics opinions are available on the ABA Center for Professional Responsibility website, http://www.americanbar.org/groups/professional_responsibility/publications/ethics_opinions.html.

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