Tenn. R. Sup. Ct. 8.4

As amended through September 2, 2021
Rule 8.4 - MISCONDUCT

It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to:

(a) violate or attempt to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct, knowingly assist or induce another to do so, or do so through the acts of another;
(b) commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects;
(c) engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation;
(d) engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice;
(e) state or imply an ability to influence a tribunal or a governmental agency or official on grounds unrelated to the merits of, or the procedures governing, the matter under consideration;
(f) knowingly assist a judge or judicial officer in conduct that is a violation of applicable rules of judicial conduct or other law; or
(g) knowingly fail to comply with a final court order entered in a proceeding in which the lawyer is a party, unless the lawyer is unable to comply with the order or is seeking in good faith to determine the validity, scope, meaning, or application of the law upon which the order is based.

Tenn. R. Sup. Ct. 8.4

Comment

[1] Lawyers are subject to discipline when they violate or attempt to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct, knowingly assist or induce another to do so, or do so through the acts of another, as when they request or instruct an agent to do so on the lawyer's behalf. Paragraph (a), however, does not prohibit a lawyer from advising a client concerning action the client is legally entitled to take.

[2] Many kinds of illegal conduct reflect adversely on fitness to practice law, such as offenses involving fraud and the offense of willful failure to file an income tax return. However, some kinds of offenses carry no such implication. Traditionally, the distinction was drawn in terms of offenses involving "moral turpitude." That concept can be construed to include offenses concerning some matters of personal morality, such as adultery and comparable offenses, that have no specific connection to fitness for the practice of law. Although a lawyer is personally answerable to the entire criminal law, a lawyer should be professionally answerable only for offenses that indicate lack of those characteristics relevant to law practice. Offenses involving violence, dishonesty, breach of trust, or serious interference with the administration of justice are in that category. Although under certain circumstances a single offense reflecting adversely on a lawyer's fitness to practice - such as a minor assault - may not be sufficiently serious to warrant discipline, a pattern of repeated offenses, even ones that are of minor significance when considered separately, can indicate indifference to legal obligation.

[3] A lawyer who, in the course of representing a client, knowingly manifests, by words or conduct, bias or prejudice based on race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, or socio-economic status violates paragraph (d) when such actions are prejudicial to the administration of justice. Legitimate advocacy respecting the foregoing factors does not violate paragraph (d).

[4] A lawyer may refuse to comply with an obligation imposed by law upon a good faith belief that no valid obligation exists. The provisions of RPC 1.2(d) concerning a good faith challenge to the validity, scope, meaning, or application of the law apply to challenges of legal regulation of the practice of law.

[5] Paragraph (c) prohibits lawyers from engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation. Such conduct reflects adversely on the lawyer's fitness to practice law. In some circumstances, however, prosecutors are authorized by law to use, or to direct investigative agents to use, investigative techniques that might be regarded as deceitful. This Rule does not prohibit such conduct.

[6] The lawful secret or surreptitious recording of a conversation or the actions of another for the purpose of obtaining or preserving evidence does not, by itself, constitute conduct involving deceit or dishonesty. See RPC 4.4.

[7] Lawyers holding public office assume legal responsibilities going beyond those of other citizens. A lawyer's abuse of public office can suggest an inability to fulfill the professional role of lawyers. The same is true of abuse of positions of private trust such as trustee, executor, administrator, guardian, agent and officer, director, or manager of a corporation or other organization.

[8] Paragraph (f) precludes a lawyer from assisting a judge or judicial officer in conduct that is a violation of the rules of judicial conduct. A lawyer cannot, for example, make a gift, bequest, favor, or loan to a judge, or a member of the judge's family who resides in the judge's household, unless the judge would be permitted to accept, or acquiesce in the acceptance of such a gift, favor, bequest, or loan in accordance with RJC 3.13 of the Code of Judicial Conduct.

[9] In both their professional and personal activities, lawyers have special obligations to demonstrate respect for the law and legal institutions. Normally, a lawyer who knowingly fails to obey a court order demonstrates disrespect for the law that is prejudicial to the administration of justice. Failure to comply with a court order is not a disciplinary offense, however, when it does not evidence disrespect for the law either because the lawyer is unable to comply with the order or the lawyer is seeking in good faith to determine the validity, scope, meaning, or application of the law upon which the order is based.

DEFINITIONAL CROSS-REFERENCES "Fraud" See RPC 1.0(d) "Knowingly" See RPC 1.0(f) "Tribunal" See RPC 1.0(m)