Legal Ethics

Lawyer suspended for violating no-sex-with-client rule; he admits oral sex was DUI case fee

Applying a new Pennsylvania legal ethics rule for the first time, the state’s supreme court has OK’d a one-year law license suspension for a suburban Philadelphia lawyer who admitted he accepted oral sex as a fee for representing a client in a driving-under-the-influence case.

David H. Knight agreed to the attorney disciplinary sanction and was given a lesser penalty than he might otherwise have received because of his cooperation, the Legal Intelligencer reports.

According to the disciplinary petition, this is the first time a lawyer has been sanctioned in the state for violating Pennsylvania Rule of Professional Conduct 1.8(j), which became effective in 2005. It flatly prohibits sex with a client, regardless of whether there is consent or the client is prejudiced as a result.

The old standard, Rule 1.7, states that “a lawyer shall not represent a client if the representation involves a concurrent conflict of interest.” It appears that no lawyer had been sanctioned under the old rule, either, the legal publication says.

“These are very, very difficult cases to prove in that they involve a consensual sexual relationship involving two people,” said attorney Stuart Haimowitz, who is not involved in the Knight case. “The Disciplinary Board would need to prove a case like this by clear and convincing evidence.”

Doing so is difficult or impossible, Haimowitz explained, in such a he-said, she-said situation.

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