Judicial Attitudes Toward Confronting Attorney Misconduct: A View From the Reported Decisions
Over the last 20 years, a rich body of literature has emerged to describe the increasingly complex system of lawyer regulation in the United States. This article studies the available data from the Code of Judicial Conduct and federal and state court opinions to glean a richer understanding of how judges construct their individual and institutional role in this web of attorney regulation. The picture that emerges from the reported decisions in both state and federal court is a desire to maintain the integrity of the judicial process and a concern for the efficiency and fairness in the proceeding before the court. Concern for the integrity of the legal profession as an independent concern appears to play a lesser role in judges' attitudes, at least as reflected in the reported decisions. There is an obvious connection between the legal profession and the judicial system, but regulating attorney conduct is derivative or secondary to the larger goals of a fair and efficient legal proceeding. This picture of judicial attitudes toward confronting attorney misconduct appears to reflect a seasoned and thoughtful assessment of the institutional capabilities of judges.