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Montana Supreme Court considers change to lawyers ethics rule - KTVQ.com | Q2 | Continuous News Coverage | Billings, MT

Montana Supreme Court considers change to lawyers ethics rule

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The American Bar Association (ABA) is proposing what it calls an anti-discrimination rule for lawyers, but some say the rule is unconstitutional and would infringe on free speech.

The Montana Supreme Court is considering an amendment to the Montana Bar Association's Professional Rules of Conduct.

Proposed rule 8.4 (g) states: It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to engage in conduct that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know is harassment or discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or socioeconomic status in conduct related to the practice of law. 

"It makes it clear that discrimination, harassment, bias and prejudice do not belong in conduct related to the practice of law," Immediate Past ABA president Paulette Brown states about the rule on the ABA website.

Those opposing rule say It threatens free speech, threatens religious freedom and may lead to attorneys not able to provide legal advice and representation.

"It is suppressing freedom of thought, freedom of speech," said Kristen Juras, adjunct professor at the University of Montana School of Law. "There's a wide variety of attorneys from a wide variety of backgrounds that are opposing this proposed rule, not necessarily on faith based reasons, but on the ability to ask questions in depositions and determining who should be seated on a jury. So it's raised concerns amongst all types of attorneys."

The court is accepting written comments on the proposed rule through Friday, December 9.

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