Publications
Publications :
Code of Civility

MARYLAND STATE BAR ASSOCIATION
CODE OF CIVILITY

In May 1997, the Maryland State Bar Association’s Board of Governors approved the following aspirational Code of Civility for all lawyers and judges in Maryland. MSBA encourages all Maryland lawyers and judges to honor and voluntarily adhere to the standards set forth in these codes. Civility is the cornerstone of the legal profession.

LAWYERS’ DUTIES

1. We will treat all participants in the legal process, in a civil, professional, and courteous manner and with respect at all times and in all communications, whether oral or written. These principles are intended to apply to all attorneys who practice law in the State of Maryland regardless of the nature of their practice. We will refrain from acting upon or manifesting racial, gender, or other bias or prejudice toward any participant in the legal process. We will treat all participants in the legal process with respect.

2. We will abstain from disparaging personal remarks or acrimony toward any participants in the legal process and treat everyone with fair consideration. We will advise our clients and witnesses to act civilly and respectfully to all participants in the legal process. We will, in all communications, speak and write civilly and respectfully to the Court, staff, and other court or agency personnel with an awareness that they, too, are an integral part of the judicial system.

3. We will not encourage any person under our control to engage in conduct that would be inappropriate under these standards if we were to engage in such conduct.

4. We will not bring the profession into disrepute by making unfounded accusations of impropriety or attacking counsel, and absent good cause, we will not attribute bad motives or improper conduct to other counsel.

5. We will strive for orderly, efficient, ethical and fair disposition of litigation, as well as disputed matters that are not yet the subject of litigation, and for the efficient, ethical, and fair negotiation and consummation of business transactions.

6. We will not engage in conduct that offends the dignity and decorum of judicial and administrative proceedings, bring disorder to the tribunal or undermines the image of the legal profession, nor will we allow clients or witnesses to engage in such conduct. We will educate clients and witnesses about proper courtroom decorum and to the best of our ability, prevent them from creating disorder or disruption in the courtroom.

7. We will not knowingly misrepresent, mischaracterize, or misquote fact or authorities cited.

8. We will be punctual and prepared for all scheduled appearances so that all matters may begin on time and proceed efficiently. Furthermore, we will also educate everyone involved concerning the need to be punctual and prepared, and if delayed, we will notify everyone involved, if at all possible.

9. We will attempt to verify the availability of necessary participants and witnesses so we can promptly reschedule appearances if necessary.

10. We will avoid ex parte communications with the court, including the judge’s staff, on pending matters in person (whether in social, professional, or other contexts), by telephone, and in letters and other forms of written communication, unless authorized.

JUDGES’ RESPONSIBILITIES

1. We will not use hostile, demeaning or humiliating words in opinions or in written or oral communications with lawyers, parties or witnesses.

2. We will be courteous, respectful and civil to lawyers, parties, witnesses, and court personnel. We will maintain control of all court proceedings, recognizing that judges have both the obligation and the authority to ensure that judicial proceedings are conducted with dignity, decorum and courtesy to all.

3. Within the practical limits of time, we will afford lawyers appropriate time to present proper arguments and to make a complete and accurate record.

4. We will make reasonable efforts to decide promptly all matters presented for decision.

5. We will be considerate of professional and personal time schedules of lawyers, parties, witnesses and court staff in scheduling hearings, meetings, and conferences, consistent with the efficient administration of justice.

6. We will be punctual in convening trials, hearings, meetings, and conferences; if they are not begun when scheduled; proper and prompt notification will be given.

7. We will inform counsel promptly of any rescheduling, postponement, or cancellation of hearings, meetings or conferences.

8. We will work cooperatively with all other judges and other jurisdictions with respect to availability of lawyers, witnesses, parties and court resources.

9. We will treat each other with courtesy and respect.

10. We will conscientiously assist and cooperate with other jurists to assure the efficient and expeditious processing of cases, while, when possible, accommodating the trial schedule of all lawyers, parties and witnesses.