Standard #1 – Principles that Span the Generations
by Judge Ann Boyden
Not long ago, my fifteen-month old grandson, Juddy, was helping me make my bed. Each step of the process was a big deal. As I smoothed a wrinkle from the sheet, he cheered a supportive, “Good job!” When I handed him a pillow to plump, he beamed a “thank you.” When the task was finally completed, he threw his chubby arms straight up in the air and while pulling them down, shouted “Yes!!”
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by Nate Alder
“Lawyers shall make good faith efforts to resolve by stipulation undisputed relevant matters, particularly when it is obvious such matters can be proven, unless there is a sound advocacy basis for not doing so.”
This Standard is one of the most straightforward of the twenty Standards of Professionalism and Civility adopted October 16, 2003. Simply put, the Utah Supreme Court considers it unprofessional and uncivil for counsel to not make good faith efforts to resolve “undisputed relevant matters,” especially those that can obviously be proven, and counsel may only contest such matters upon a “sound advocacy basis.” Otherwise, the clear expectation is that counsel will work together to resolve the issues that should be resolved, and reserve for a contest only those that are truly worth contesting. It is burdensome on courts, litigants, and counsel when we continue to squabble over such “undisputed relevant matters.” And in such instances, the person who resists takes on a burden of showing a “sound advocacy basis.”
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by Donald J. Winder and Lance F. Sorenson
“In responding to document requests and interrogatories, lawyers shall not interpret them in an artificially restrictive manner so as to avoid disclosure of relevant and non-protected documents or information, nor shall they produce documents in a manner designed to obscure their source, create confusion, or hide the existence of particular documents.”
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Standard 15 - of Calendars, Courtesy, and Holiday Weekends
by Ken Black
"Lawyers shall endeavor to consult with other counsel so that depositions, hearings, and conferences are scheduled at mutually convenient times. Lawyers shall never request a scheduling change for tactical or unfair purpose. If a scheduling change becomes necessary, lawyers shall notify other counsel and the court immediately. If other counsel requires a scheduling change, lawyers shall cooperate in making any reasonable adjustments."
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by Scott Daniels
One area of litigation practice which frequently gives rise to unprofessional behavior is discovery. Standards 17, 18 and 19 seek to address the problems in this area.
Standard 17 addresses, among other things, the practice of attempting to wear an opponent down by using discovery to increase litigation expense. It also addresses the practice of delaying discovery of unpleasant, but clearly discoverable, facts.
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by Fran Wikstrom
Previous articles have discussed Standards that encourage lawyers to maintain civility in their written communications. When committing oral understandings to writing, lawyers should do so accurately and completely. (Std. 7) Letters should not attribute "improper motives" to an opponent. (Std. 3) They should not contain "hostile, demeaning, or humiliating" language, nor should they "disparage the integrity, intelligence, morals, ethics or personal behavior of an adversary." (Id.) Lawyers should not use written communications to "attribute to other counsel a position or claim that counsel has not taken," or to "create an unjustified inference," or to "create a 'record' that has not occurred. (Std. 4)
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Standard 14 - Professional Courtesy
by Bonnie Mitchell
"Lawyers shall advise their clients that they reserve the right to determine whether to grant accommodations to other counsel in all matters not directly affecting the merits of the cause or prejudicing the client's right, such as extensions of time, continuances, adjournments, and admissions of facts. Lawyers shall agree to reasonable requests for extension of time and waiver of procedural formalities when doing so will not adversely affect their clients' legitimate rights. Lawyers shall never request an extension of time solely for the purpose of delay or to obtain a tactical advantage."
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Standard 3 - Baby Steps . . . Toward Civility
by Robert S. Clark
Insults, personal attacks, intimidation, verbal abuse. Too many, both inside and outside the legal profession, assume that such conduct has become so deeply rooted among lawyers that it can't be eradicated. No one seems to deny the erosion of civility among lawyers. To a degree, misbehavior by imperfect participants is inevitable in the rough and tumble of an adversarial process, but few would argue that incivility advances the fair administration of justice. I believe we must not stand idly by and allow corrosive behavior to thrive until it dominates our system of justice.
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