SCRUPLES: Threatening an Adversary

Vol. 40 No. 2

The author is with Armstrong Teasdale LLP, St. Louis. He also teaches legal ethics at Washington University School of Law.

When the last column ended, Ethox reassured Paradox, “At least you didn’t write Nemesis a letter threatening ethics charges or claims you ultimately could not back up. After all, that could be a whole different ethics problem—for you.”

Paradox looked surprised. “Isn’t it always unethical to make the threat?”

“Not necessarily,” Ethox responded. “The old ABA Code of Professional Responsibility prohibited most threats. A disciplinary rule, DR 7-105, stated that a lawyer ‘shall not present, participate in presenting, or threaten to present criminal charges solely to obtain an advantage in a civil matter.’”


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