Professional Guidelines

An agency of the Supreme Court of Virginia

The Virginia State Bar

Professional Guidelines

Rule 8.2

Judicial Officials

A lawyer shall not make a statement that the lawyer knows to be false or with reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity concerning the qualifications or integrity of a judge or other judicial officer.

Comment

[1] False statements by a lawyer concerning the qualifications or integrity of a judge can unfairly undermine public confidence in the administration of justice. To maintain the fair and independent administration of justice, lawyers are encouraged to continue traditional efforts to defend judges and courts unjustly criticized.

Virginia Code Comparison

There was no direct counterpart to Rule 8.2 in the Virginia Code. EC 8-6 stated: "While a lawyer as a citizen has a right to criticize [judges and other judicial officers], he should be certain of the merit of his complaint, use appropriate language, and avoid petty criticisms, for unrestrained and intemperate statements tend to lessen public confidence in our legal system."

Committee Commentary

The Committee adopted this Rule because it addressed a subject not explicitly addressed by the Virginia Code. However, the Committee deleted ABA Model Rule language which brought candidates for judicial office under the protection of this Rule and which required such candidates to abide by applicable provisions of the Virginia Code -- concluding that such requirements and protections were neither necessary nor advisable for lawyers who are being considered for judicial office. While the dignity of courts and the attendant requirement that judicial officials be treated with respect acts as a restraint on lawyer criticism of those officials, the Committee concluded that to extend this Rule to those being considered for judicial office might have a chilling effect on free discussion of judicial candidates' qualifications.

Updated: March 3, 2010