Arkansas Bar Association, Petitioner. In Re: Appointment of an Ad Hoc Task Force to Determine the Need for Rule Changes or a Supreme Court Committee on Race and Gender Fairness in the Arkansas Legal System. Petition for appointment of task force granted. See per curiam issued October 7, 1998. (2 PAGES PUBLISHED) [HTML, WP5.1]

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IN RE: APPOINTMENT of an AD HOC TASK FORCE to Determine the Need for Rule Changes for a Supreme Court Committee on Race and Gender Fairness in the Arkansas Legal System

98-1060 ___ S.W.3d ___

Supreme Court of Arkansas

Delivered January 13, 2000

Per Curiam. On August 27, 1998, the Arkansas Bar Association petitioned this court to assess the need for rule changes in the Model Rules of Professional Conduct and in the Code of Judicial Conduct to address the problems of fairness within the legal system. On October 7, 1998, by per curiam order, this court appointed a Task Force on Race and Gender Fairness composed of the following persons:

Bradley Jesson, Chair

Hon. Joyce Warren

Hon. Don Glover

Margaret Woolfolk

Katherine Gay

The charge to the Task Force was to report to this court no later than March 15, 1999, on recommendations for rule changes pursuant to the Arkansas Bar Association's petition.

On March 5, 1999, the Task Force issued its first report, and on January 4, 2000, the Task Force issued an amended report wherein it recommended the following additional comment to Rule 8.4 of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct:

Subdivision (d) of this rule proscribes conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice. Such proscription includes the prohibition against discriminatory conduct committed by a lawyer while performing duties in connection with the practice of law. The proscription extends to any characteristic or status that is not relevant to the proof of any legal or factual issue in dispute. Such discriminatory conduct, when directed towards litigants, jurors, witnesses, other lawyers, or the court, including race, sex, religion, national origin, or any other similar factors, subverts the administration of justice and undermines the public's confidence in our system of justice, as well as notions of equality. This subdivision does not prohibit a lawyer from representing a client accused of committing discriminatory conduct.

No changes were recommended for the Code of Judicial Conduct.

We adopt the additional comment to Rule 8.4(d) of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct to be effective immediately. We thank the members of the Task Force for their work on this matter.