The Missouri Supreme Court has created some new ethical rules that take effect on July 1, 2007. New Rule 4-1.8(j) seems to be attempting to avoid conflicts, but raises novel issues.
The new rules states: “A lawyer shall not have sexual relations with a client unless a consensual sexual relationship existed between them when the client-lawyer relationship commenced.”
I can appreciate the problem this rule addresses, but sometimes you just can’t solve every problem with a new rule. (At least it’s not the legislature this time.) Anyway, try out this imaginary exchange between a lawyer (trying to do the right thing) and the Office of Disciplinary Counsel:
Dear Legal Ethics Counsel:
I am a lawyer in a small law firm. My fiancé and I are getting married in a few months. We have agreed that we will not have sex until we are married. My fiancé is starting a business and wants to hire me to represent him in the business. If he hires me to do the legal work, would it be an ethical violation for me to have sex with him on our wedding night?
Confused Boone County Bride
Dear Confused in Boone:
It is good that you come to us first before you create a mess for yourself. The short answer is yes: under your circumstances, to have sexual relations with your husband on your wedding night would be highly unethical. The ethical thing would be to jump his bones tonight, before you form a client-lawyer relationship. Hope that helps.
Legal Ethics Counsel
In addition to DWI-related bills for child endangerment and drugs (already discussed) there are a few more pending bills that–taken together–will make DWI offenders wish they had never touched the stuff.
Every crime has its punishment. You take your licks, then get on with your life. But now, with all the current and proposed disciplinary measures, a DWI is truly the conviction that keeps on giving. Here are a few more punches for drinking drivers:
- HOUSE BILL NO. 925 , sponsored by Neal St. Onge: Anyone guilty of DWI or other intoxication-related traffic offense cannot drive any vehicle unless it is equipped with a working ignition interlock device for least 12 months from the time he gets his license back.
- HOUSE BILL NO. 885, sponsored by Kevin Wilson: Allows the court to order a person’s vehicle impounded for up to one year as part of a penalty for driving while intoxicated. The defendant pays all costs for impoundment. (yikes!)
- HOUSE BILL 1151, also sponsored by Kevin Wilson: If you get a DWI, you must display a specially colored license plate proclaiming you as a drunk driver. The new plate–which must be displayed on every car you own for one year–replaces the words “SHOW-ME STATE” with the word “DWI.” Naturally, you get to pay extra for these “personalized” plates.
Senate Bill 370 is in the news. It would require abortion clinics that perform at least five first trimester abortions in a month to qualify as an “ambulatory surgical center.” Critics say the bill would shut down the Columbia and Kansas City clinics, apparently due to the expense of complying with the tougher safety regulations.
If that happened, I assume that a few folks would be looking for a job.
Another item in the news during the last year has to do with the Missouri death penalty not being handled properly and whether being executed might actually hurt a bit. When it’s sorted out they may still have to find a doctor willing do the job. And that can be a problem in itself. Many doctors–being committed to saving lives, not taking them–are just not interested.
I was thinking that if one or more of these clinics shut down, the doctor who was doing the abortions might be just the guy to hire as the state executioner. After all, it’s hard to imagine that an out-of-work abortionist would have any moral qualms about killing a lawfully convicted first degree murderer.