ABA Adopts Policy on Ethics in the Profession, Criminal Justice Reforms and Civil Standards in Immigration Detention
The American Bar Association adopted policies relating to ethical considerations for the profession in light of globalization and technological advancements, criminal justice reforms and civil immigration detention standards when the association’s policymaking body met during the 2012 ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago.
The House of Delegates—made up of 560 members representing state and local bar associations, ABA entities and ABA affiliated organizations—marked the culmination of the Annual Meeting.
During the two-day session, Morris Dees, chief trial attorney and co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, received the ABA Medal, the association’s highest honor. Incoming ABA President Laurel G. Bellows made remarks following the ceremonial passing of the president’s gavel.
The House approved six recommendations sponsored by the ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20 that amend the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct and commentary in the following areas: lawyers’ use of technology and confidentiality; lawyers’ use of technology and client development; ethical implications of retaining lawyers and nonlawyers outside the firm to work on client matters; the detection of conflicts of interest when lawyers move from one firm to another; and practice pending admission and admission by motion.
The ABA Criminal Justice Section obtained ABA approval on recommendations urging governments to review child sexual abuse statutes (107A); urging prosecutors to fulfill their traditional prosecutorial functions through the use of a broad spectrum of strategies to discharge that duty (107B); urging defender organizations and criminal defense lawyers to address clients’ interrelated criminal, civil and nonlegal problems (107C); and urging Congress to amend the U.S. code to permit a federal district court to review de novo in death sentences (107D).
Resolution 102, approved by the House, adopts the ABA Civil Immigration Detention Standards, which provide the Department of Homeland Security with a blueprint for developing civil detention standards and are designed to help DHS and Immigration and Customs Enforcement reform the U.S. immigration detention system.
The House also adopted Resolution 10(B), which supports efforts to address the decline in the number of lawyers practicing in rural areas and access to justice issues for rural residents.
Additionally, the House passed resolutions that:
- Concurred with the Council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar’s amendments to Standard 509 and Rule 16 of the ABA Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools, clarifying the obligations of schools with respect to the reporting and publication of consumer information, and strengthening the range of sanctions that may be imposed for violations of the standard;
- Urged governments to enact legislation to protect individuals and organizations that choose to speak on matters of public concern from meritless litigation designed to suppress such speech, commonly referred to as Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (Resolution 115); and
- Amended ABA policy regarding racial and ethnic profiling to include religious profiling and characteristics indicative of religious affiliation (Resolution 116).
The ABA website provides information on all ABA policies considered at the House of Delegates meeting.