Ethical reponsabilities for lawyers involved with the Church of Scientology
From the American Jurist,
The student magazine of the Washington College of Law
Nov 1995 Vol. 9 No2
In court decisions, judges have even characterized Scientology as "schizophrenic
and paranoid" and "corrupt, sinister, and dangerous" Some
critics claim that Scientology is far too great a force for just private
attorneys and citizens to deal with. They ask that the federal government
take major steps to crack down on the church's illegal activities (as the
governments of Germany and other European countries have been doing).
Without widespread federal intervention, it seems unlikely that the church
will reform its invidious practices. The legal community, however, along
with the American Bar Association and state bar associations - as its representatives
- have an obligation to assure that all members of the professions are
upholding their professional ethical responsibilities. Section DR 7-102
of the ABA Model Code of Responsibility establishes that, by penalty of
sanctions, "in his representation of a client, a lawyer shall not
. . . file a suit, assert a position, conduct a defense, delay a trial,
or take other action on behalf of his client when he knows or when it is
obvious that such action would serve merely to harrass or maliciously injure
another." Individual state rules of conduct are similar. Additionally,
Federal Rulse of Civil Procedure 11(b) requires the representations to
court are not being presented for any improper purpose, such as to harrass
or cause unnecessary delay or needless increase in the cost of litigation,
and are "nonfrivolous." The penalty here too, under FRCP 11(c),
These ethical and legal obligations, in addition to others, directly
contradict the directives of Scientology, which claims that the purpose
of the suit is to "harrass and discourage rather than to win."
Add the church's record of frivolous suits by the hundreds, and it certainly
leads one to wonder how many of the church's 100 lawyers are ethicaly in
the red. It is hard for me to believe that Joseph Yanny was the only Scientology
attorney asked to take part in a blackmail scheme. Perhaps some have acquiesced.
If justice cannot prevail over Scientology's misdeeds, then perhaps it
can at least prevail over its attorney's misdeeds. It is the duty of the
ABA -- in conjunction with state bar associations -- to assure that Scientology's
attorneys are operating within the scope of thier ethical and legal obligations.
This is no different their obligation overe every other member of the bar.
For the ABA and state bar associations to have any legitimacy when they
charge that small town lawyer John Smith overbilled Mary Lou Jones by $75,
then they certainly must at the least investigate the big menaces, too.
Eric Ascalon - Editor