Copyright (c) 1997 University of San Francisco School of Law
University of San Francisco Law Review
NOTE: An Attorney's Constitutional Right to Have an Offensive Personality? United States v. Wunsch and Section 6068(f) of the California Business and Professions Code
31 U.S.F. L. Rev. 703
Brian E. Mitchell *
"Without feelings of respect, what is there to distinguish men from beasts?" 1
"There are few things that so touch us with instinctive revulsion as a breach of decorum." 2
FOR EVERY PRACTICING ATTORNEY there is a line between conduct that connotes the zealous representation of the client and conduct that is abusive, unprofessional, and offensive. Increasingly, many attorneys appear willing to cross that line. 3 Commentators have suggested many reasons for this trend, including: attorneys' belief that abusive, unprofessional, and offensive conduct wins lawsuits; 4 client demand for more aggressive behavior from their attorneys; 5 the increased pace at which law is being practiced; 6 and the increased number of practicing attorneys. 7 For these reasons, courts and state agencies responsible for attorney discipline have turned to ethical and civility codes to prevent this conduct from having a negative impact on the proper administration of justice. 8 In California, Business and Professions Code section 6068(f) has traditionally been used in this capacity. 9 This Note focuses on section 6068(f)'s mandate that an attorney shall "abstain from all offensive personality." 10
California's Business and Professions Code establishes certain ethical requirements for attorneys admitted to practice before the California State Bar. 11 Code sections 6067 and 6068 contain an attorney's general oath and duties. 12 In addition, section 6068 outlines the specific duties of an attorney, including: the duty "to maintain the respect due to the courts of justice and judicial officers"; the duty "to ...
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