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Professionalism “Dos and Don’ts” Series Continues
Post on February 17th, 2014

The Ohio Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism issued the fourth in its series of best practices publications to promote professionalism among Ohio’s lawyers. The latest publication is “Professionalism Dos and Don’ts: Conduct of Prosecutors and Defense Attorneys.

The publication notes that “[t]he integrity of our criminal justice system depends, in large part, upon the professionalism of the lawyers who prosecute criminal matters on behalf of the state and the defense attorneys who defend the accused.” The list of dos and don’ts was prepared by the Supreme Court of Ohio Commission on Professionalism, with assistance from members of the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association and the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Some of the suggested “Dos” for prosecutors include:

  • Do remember your job is not to “win,” but to help administer justice.
  • Do remember that the power of the state is not personal to an individual prosecutor and that you should always use prosecutorial power judiciously, with personal humility.

A few suggested “Don’ts” for prosecutors are:

  • Don’t forget that your role is the obtainment of justice, which does not always mean a conviction.
  • Don’t pursue a charge if the evidence is not there.

Suggested “Dos” for defense attorneys include:

  • Do advocate for your client, listen to your client, and treat your client with respect.
  • Do promptly file a notice of appearance when taking over a case as retained counsel from appointed counsel, so that appointed counsel can file a motion to withdraw, and ask appointed counsel to provide you with all pleadings and discovery materials and other case information he or she obtained.

“Don’ts” for defense counsel include:

  • Don’t suggest to your client that you can get a certain result or make promises to your client that you may not be able to keep.
  • Don’t enter a plea agreement on your client’s behalf without first investigating all areas of potential defense.

Joint “Dos” for both prosecutors and defense attorneys suggest:

  • Do review and consistently follow the Supreme Court of Ohio’s Professionalism Dos and Don’ts concerning Professionalism in the Courtroom and Working with Opposing Counsel and Other Attorneys.
  • Do treat opposing counsel with the utmost professionalism, even if you disagree.

The joint “Don’ts” for both encourage them not to emulate bad behavior portrayed by lawyers in television shows or movies. The publication concludes with the reminder that prosecutors and defense attorneys are officers of the court and responsible for the administration of justice. The full text of this publication may be viewed on the Ohio Supreme Court website at www.sconet.state.oh.us on the page for the Commission on Professionalism.