December 23, 2015
The holidays is a time to share with your families. However, many families will not be celebrating this holiday due to the actions of the Tarrant County family courts. The Tarrant County family courts consists of the judges, associate judges, counselors, receivers, amicus attorneys, ad litem attorneys, and case workers.
The Tarrant County Family Law Bar Association members work in the Tarrant County family courts, it is unfair to say that all members condone, or agree, to the unethical practices held by some of the bar members.
Family lawyers take an ethical oath intended to protect the due process families are entitled to when suits have been filed.
With the Texas Lawyer’s Oath in place, why are attorneys collectively silent when obvious violations by their peers is observed? It is the duty of these members to report professional misconduct as referenced below:
8.03 Reporting Professional Misconduct
Back to Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct
(a) Except as permitted in paragraphs (c) or (d), a lawyer having knowledge that another lawyer has committed a violation of applicable rules of professional conduct that raises a substantial question as to that lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects, shall inform the appropriate disciplinary authority.
(b) Except as permitted in paragraphs (c) or (d), a lawyer having knowledge that a judge has committed a violation of applicable rules of judicial conduct that raises a substantial question as to the judges fitness for office shall inform the appropriate authority.
(c) A lawyer having knowledge or suspecting that another lawyer or judge whose conduct the lawyer is required to report pursuant to paragraphs (a) or (b) of this Rule is impaired by chemical dependency on alcohol or drugs or by mental illness may report that person to an approved peer assistance program rather than to an appropriate disciplinary authority. If a lawyer elects that option, the lawyer’s report to the approved peer assistance program shall disclose any disciplinary violations that the reporting lawyer would otherwise have to disclose to the authorities referred to in paragraphs (a) and (b).
“Every minute a judge or a lawyer spends dealing with a colleague’s unprofessional behavior is valuable time taken away from the critical work of evaluating and deciding substantive legal issues on behalf of Texas citizens and businesses”, according to Jonathan Smaby of Texas Center for Legal Ethics – (May 19, 2015). In order to receive your bar license, lawyers must swear to this oath. Is the Texas Lawyers Oath taken seriously?
“Governor Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 534, which passed through the Texas Legislature with unanimous support this year . Authored by Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, SB 534 amends the existing Texas Lawyer’s Oath to require the pledging attorney to “conduct oneself with integrity and civility in dealing with and communicating with the court and all parties.” The key additions to the oath added “integrity” and “civility” which demonstrates a need for more direct terminology for lawyers to follow.
It is time that Tarrant County attorneys take a stance and report what is going on in the family courts of Tarrant County. Too many children and families have suffered enough at the hands of these judges, court appointments and private attorneys.
The attorneys’ have an ethical duty to report and inform and let the families of Tarrant County have the right to due process.
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