Ariz. Bar Seeks Ethics Rule Banning Bias Against Clients; Gender Identity Language Spurs Objection
The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office is raising objections to a proposed ethics rule in Arizona that would bar lawyers from showing bias in representing their clients.
The idea is already expressed in comments to the ethics rules, but the state bar wants a formal rule saying it is misconduct to “knowingly manifest bias or prejudice” in representing a client, Capitol Media Services reports.
Both the comments and the proposed rule spell out the kind of characteristics that may not be used as a basis of discrimination, including age, race, gender, religion, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation and gender identity.
The ethics rule goes further, however, and says lawyers should not discriminate against their clients on the basis of gender expression. Mark Faull, chief deputy of the Maricopa County Attorney’s office, tells Capitol Media Services that the additional phrase creates a vague, “amorphous category.”
“The term ‘gender expression’ is vague and subject to interpretations that might include deviant sexual behavior,” he says.