Friday, September 24, 2010

Rules Prohibiting Ex Parte Communications.

Ex parte communications from pro se parties and attorneys, particularly in family law cases, are the subject of frequent complaints by judges. Indeed they are our pet peeve.  Recently a pro se party told me in a joint phone conference that an attorney helped write an ex parte letter to me and that the attorney said it was OK since opposing counsel was being copied.  This convinces me that there is considerable misunderstanding about ex parte communications.  Sending a copy to opposing counsel does not make an ex parte letter or email acceptable under the rules.  Judges are prohibited by Rule 2.9 of the Code of Judicial Conduct from considering ex parte communications except in limited circumstances.

 Attorneys are encouraged to review within the Professional Aspirations adopted by the MN Supreme Court, Sec. IV. Lawyer and Judge, Subd. A(6):
       We will avoid argument or posturing through sending copies of correspondence between counsel to the court, unless specifically permitted or invited by the court.

Judges realize that family law clients can be very demanding.  But that does not excuse violating our rules.

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