Rules of Professional Conduct
Supreme Judicial Court Rules Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 3.5: Impartiality and decorum of the tribunal
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A lawyer shall not:
seek to influence a judge, juror, prospective juror or other official by means prohibited by law;
communicate ex parte with such a person during the proceeding unless authorized to do so by law or court order;
communicate with a juror or prospective juror after discharge of the jury if:
(1) the communication is prohibited by law or court order;
(2) the juror has made known to the lawyer, either directly or through communications with the judge or otherwise, a desire not to communicate with the lawyer; or
(3) the communication involves misrepresentation, coercion, duress or harassment; or
(4) the communication is initiated by the lawyer without the notice required by law; or
engage in conduct intended to disrupt a tribunal.
 Many forms of improper influence upon a tribunal are proscribed by criminal law. Others are specified in S.J.C. Rule 3:09, the Code of Judicial Conduct, with which an advocate should be familiar. A lawyer is required to avoid contributing to a violation of such provisions.
 During a proceeding a lawyer may not communicate ex parte with persons serving in an official capacity in the proceeding, such as judges, masters or jurors, unless authorized to do so by law or court order.
 A lawyer may on occasion want to communicate with a juror or prospective juror after the jury has been discharged. Subject to the notice requirements discussed below, the lawyer may do so unless the communication is prohibited by law or a court order. For example, in most cases common-law principles bar inquiry into the contents of jury deliberations and the thought processes of jurors, but not into extraneous influences. The lawyer must respect the desire of the juror not to talk with the lawyer. Where a juror makes known to the judge a desire not to communicate with the lawyer, and the judge so informs the lawyer, the lawyer may not initiate contact with that juror, directly or indirectly. The lawyer may not engage in improper conduct during the communication.
[3A] If the lawyer wishes to initiate the communication with a juror or prospective juror after discharge of the jury, the lawyer must send notice of the lawyer’s intent to initiate such contact to counsel for the opposing party or parties (or directly to the opposing party or parties, if not represented by counsel) five business days before contacting any juror. The notice must include a description of the proposed manner of contact and the substance of any proposed inquiry to the jurors, and, where applicable, a copy of any letter or other form of written communication the lawyer intends to send. The preferred method of initiating contact with a juror is by written letter, and the letter must include a statement that the juror may decline any contact with the lawyer or terminate contact once initiated. If the lawyer seeks to initiate contact through an oral conversation (whether in person, by telephone, or otherwise), the lawyer is nonetheless required to provide opposing counsel or opposing parties with prior notice of the substance of the intended communication five business days before the contact is initiated. See Commonwealth v. Moore, 474 Mass. 541, 551-52 (2016).
[3B] If the juror initiates the communication with the lawyer and seeks to communicate about permissible subjects, such as the existence of extraneous influences on the jury deliberation process or the lawyer’s performance during the trial, the lawyer is permitted to communicate with that juror after discharge of the jury without following these notice requirements.
 The advocate’s function is to present evidence and argument so that the cause may be decided according to law. Refraining from abusive or obstreperous conduct is a corollary of the advocate’s right to speak on behalf of litigants. A lawyer may stand firm against abuse by a judge but should avoid reciprocation; the judge’s default is no justification for similar dereliction by an advocate. An advocate can present the cause, protect the record for subsequent review and preserve professional integrity by patient firmness no less effectively than by belligerence or theatrics.
 The duty to refrain from disruptive conduct applies to any proceeding of a tribunal, including a deposition. See Rule 1.0(p).
Downloads for Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 3.5: Impartiality and decorum of the tribunal
|Updates:||Adopted March 26, 2015, effective July 1, 2015 Amended November 16, 2017, effective December 1, 2017|