Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Virginian Pilot editorial criticizes judges for bar complaint

This editorial highlights the reasons the Rules of Professional Conduct protect the judiciary from reckless statements "concerning the qualifications or integrity of a judge." The editorial criticized the judges' "overreaction," noted their failure to return a telephone call, and even alleged that the judges' bar complaint inflicted worse damage on public confidence in the law than the prosecutor's alleged criticism of the judges' "illegal conduct." Well, the judges cannot fight this battle in the newspaper, a fact noted in the news article written by the same paper. If the judges received "reliable information indicating a substantial likelihood that a lawyer has committed a violation of the Rules," the judges had an obligation to "take appropriate action" including, if they so chose, to "inform the Virginia State Bar." Complaints are confidential, but the Commonwealth's Attorney made the dispute public. He can continue to defend himself publicly, but his criticisms and public escalation of this matter put him in peril of violating the very Rules by which he agreed to abide.