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Ethics Question of the Month, April 2020, P.
The correct answer is “D.” Is this a joke? If not, our standards are too low. I cannot imagine any ethical lawyer I know who is appearing or will soon be appearing before a judge under the described circumstances making a $4,000 contribution to the judge. I hope the judge would return the “contribution” and recuse herself from the case, considering the appearance of impropriety. The “contribution” might not be a bribe only because the constitution protects the right to petition the government. But there are fine lines between ethics, bribery, and petitioning the government, and I think Eric crosses the ethical line. CARL ROBIN TEAGUE, San Antonio
Editor’s Note: The Ethics Question of the Month is designed to educate lawyers about the ethics rules, ethics opinions, and related law as they currently exist as well as encourage discussion of a lawyer’s ethical obligations. This particular hypothetical was intended to illuminate the nuanced and often controversial intersection of ethics and campaign contributions to judges, a long-standing debate in Texas. A more complete analysis of the relevant law and the correct answer can be found at legalethicstexas.com.