Tenn. R. Sup. Ct. 8.3

As amended through September 2, 2021
Rule 8.3 - REPORTING PROFESSIONAL MISCONDUCT
(a) A lawyer who knows that another lawyer has committed a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct that raises a substantial question as to that lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects, shall inform the Disciplinary Counsel of the Board of Professional Responsibility.
(b) A lawyer who knows that a judge has committed a violation of applicable rules of judicial conduct that raises a substantial question as to the judge's fitness for office shall inform the Disciplinary Counsel of the Board of Judicial Conduct.
(c) This Rule does not require disclosure of information otherwise protected by RPC 1.6 or information gained by a lawyer or judge while serving as a member of a lawyer assistance program approved by the Supreme Court of Tennessee or by the Board of Professional Responsibility.

Tenn. R. Sup. Ct. 8.3

Comment

[1] Self-regulation of the legal profession requires that members of the profession initiate disciplinary investigation when they know of a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct. Lawyers have a similar obligation with respect to judicial misconduct. An apparently isolated violation may indicate a pattern of misconduct that only a disciplinary investigation can uncover. Reporting a violation is especially important where the victim is unlikely to discover the offense.

[2] A report about misconduct is not required where it would involve violation of RPC 1.6. However, a lawyer should encourage a client to consent to disclosure where prosecution would not substantially prejudice the client's interests.

[3] If a lawyer were obliged to report every violation of the Rules, the failure to report any violation would itself be a professional offense. Such a requirement existed in many jurisdictions but proved to be unenforceable. This Rule limits the reporting obligation to those offenses that a self-regulating profession must vigorously endeavor to prevent. A measure of judgment is, therefore, required in complying with the provisions of this Rule. The term "substantial" refers to the seriousness of the possible offense and not the quantum of evidence of which the lawyer is aware. Similar considerations apply to the reporting of judicial misconduct.

[4] The duty to report professional misconduct does not apply to a lawyer retained to represent a lawyer whose professional conduct is in question. Such a situation is governed by the Rules applicable to the client-lawyer relationship.

[5] Information about a lawyer's or judge's misconduct or fitness may be received by a lawyer or judge in the course of that lawyer's or judge's participation in an approved lawyers or judges assistance program. In that circumstance, providing for an exception to the reporting requirements of paragraphs (a) and (b) of this Rule encourages lawyers and judges to seek treatment through such a program. Conversely, without such an exception, lawyers and judges may hesitate to seek assistance from these programs, which may then result in additional harm to their professional careers and additional injury to the welfare of clients and the public. The extent to which information received by a lawyer or judge participating in an approved lawyers assistance program must be kept confidential is governed not by these rules, but by the rules of the program or other law. See, e.g., Tenn. Code Ann.. §§ 23-4-104 and -105; Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 33.10.

DEFINITIONAL CROSS-REFERENCES "Substantial" See RPC 1.0(l)