Sunday, February 15, 2009

Relying on Advice from Ethics Hotlines

On an appeal form the imposition of sanctions against an attorney for frivolous and bad faith actions, the Court of Appeal of California, Third District in Wallis v. PHL Assoc., considered the applicability of an opinion the attorney received from the State Bar ethics hotline. The atorney argued that the call demonstrated her good faith. The court rejected the reliance because (1) the lawyer did not disuss with the person at the hotline her duties with repect to the protective order and (2) "self-serving evidence of what was said in a confidential conversation with a persson at the ethics hotline is unconvincing." In any case, the court said, the call to the hotline was "weak" evidence of good faith since the eicis hotline is a "confidenial reserch service" and "not a source of legal advice."

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