LEO: Spouses/Law Partners: Appearance Before a LE Op. 1291
Spouses/Law Partners: Appearance Before a Tribunal Upon Which
Spouse/Partner Is a Member.
October 19, 1989
You have indicated that in 1988, your opinion was requested by an
attorney regarding whether he might practice before your county's Board of
Zoning Appeals while his wife, also a lawyer and his law partner, was a
member of that body so long as the wife abstained from participating in
any matter with which the husband/lawyer was involved before the Board.
Your opinion, a copy of which was provided to this Committee, indicated
that while the husband's appearance was permissible under the State and
Local Government Conflict of Interest Act so long as the wife disqualified
herself in the matter, you had concerns about the situation based upon the
Code of Professional Responsibility and, in particular, Canon 9 regarding
the appearance of professional impropriety.
The Committee is of the view that its earlier issued LE Op. 1123 is
dispositive of the substantive matter you have raised.
In addition to the substantive matter, however, the Committee is of the
opinion that the appropriate and controlling rule to the situation is DR:
1-103(A) which requires, in pertinent part, that a lawyer having
information indicating that another lawyer has committed a violation of
the Disciplinary Rules that raises a substantial question as to that
lawyer's fitness to practice law in other respects, shall report such
information to the appropriate professional authority. Since it is beyond
the purview of this Committee to make a factual determination as to
whether or not the conduct you described is violative of the Code of
Professional Responsibility, the Committee believes you have a
responsibility under DR:1-103(A) to inform the District Committee in
your jurisdiction of the matter so that they may make the appropriate
Committee Opinion October 19, 1989