with enforcing the law or clear violations of
accepted practice norms).
10. CNCSB Op. 5 (2009). See also CNCSB Op.
3 (2005) (introducing into civil negotiations
an unrelated criminal issue solely to gain
leverage in settling a civil claim “furthers
no legitimate interest of the justice system,
and tends to prejudice its administration”)
(quoting ABA Comm. on Ethics & Prof’l Responsibility, Formal Op. 92-363 (1992) and
citing Rule 8. 4(d)). The ABA opinion found
that a threat to bring criminal charges to advance a civil claim would violate the rules if
( 1) the criminal matter were unrelated to the
civil claim, ( 2) the lawyer has a does not have
well-founded belief that both the civil claim
and the criminal charges are warranted by
the law and the facts, or ( 3) if the threat constituted an attempts to exert or suggest improper influence over the criminal process.
ABA Op. 92-363.
11. The ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct do not include a counterpart to RPC
12. TXI Transportation Co.v. Hughes, 306
S. W.3d 230, 245 (Tex. 2010) (plaintiff made
over 40 references to the status of the wit-
ness, including referring to his status as an
“illegal immigrant,” his prior deportation,
his use of a “falsified” Social Security num-
ber, and his use of a driver’s license that was
characterized as “invalid” or “fraudulently
obtained”). See also Perez-Farias v. Global
Horizons, Inc., No. CV-05-3061-RH W, 2009
WL 1011180, at 19 (E.D. Wash. Apr. 15,
2009) (court expressed concern that “im-
migration status is an issue in this case only
as a result of an unspoken perception that
persons with Hispanic last names are not
eligible for work.”); State v. Avendano-Lopez,
904 P.2d 324, 331 (Wash. Ct. App. 1995)
(references to immigration status were “de-
signed to appeal to the trier of fact’s passion
and prejudice”); In Re Disciplinary Proceed-
ings Against McGrath, 280 P.3d 1091, 1102
(Wash. 2012) (attempting to persuade the
judge by sending ex parte communications
making references to the national origin of
the opposing party violated RPC 8. 4(h)).
13. See RC W 9A. 56.110 (defining extortion to include knowingly obtaining or attempting to
obtain by threat the property or services of
the owner); David P. Weber, “(Unfair) Advantage: Damocles’ Sword and the Coercive Use
of Immigration Status in A Civil Society,”
94 Marq. Law Review, 613, 637–39 (2010)
(analyzing immigration-related threats
under the Model Penal Code and New York
law). In ABA Formal Op. 92-363, it is noted
that a lawyer’s use of threats of prosecution
in connection with a civil matter may violate
Model Rule 8. 4(b) if the lawyer’s conduct is
extortionate or compounds a crime under
the criminal law of the jurisdiction. The ABA
Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility considered it beyond
the scope of its jurisdiction to define extortionate conduct further than by referencing
the definition contained in the Model Penal
14. Indiana Bar Association Opinion available
M. Lorena González is a
shareholder and trial attorney
at Schroeter Goldmark & Bender,
where she focuses on representing
workers and personal injury and
crime victims. She is a past-president of the Latina/o Bar Association of Washington. González can
be reached at 206-622-8000 or
Ford is an attorney at Columbia
Legal Services. He focuses on
employment and civil rights work
on behalf of immigrants. He is a
member of the WSBA Board of
Governors and a former member
of the LBAW Board. Ford can be
reached at 206-287-9652 or dan.
1. From 1962–72, the ethical duties of Washington lawyers were governed by the former
Code of Professional Responsibility, which
was based on the American Bar Association
Model Code of Professional Responsibility.
2. WSBA Formal Opinion 167 (withdrawn).
4. Citing Salas v. Hi-Tech Erectors, 168 Wn.2d
664, 230 P.3d 583 (2010).
5. Id. at 1064.
6. Council of the N.C. State Bar (CNCSB), Formal Ethics Op. 3 (2005), available at www.
to report immigration status, when it is extraneous to the case, may be an abuse of the
7. RPC 4. 4 cmt [ 4].
9. Id. See also CNCSB Op. 5 (2009) (citing
comment [ 4] to Rule 8. 4(d) stating that the
rule should be “read broadly to proscribe a
wide variety of conduct”). Cf. In re Disciplinary Proceeding against Curran, 115 Wash.
2d 747, 764–65 (1990) (noting that conduct
deemed prejudicial to the administration
of justice has generally been conduct of an
attorney in his official or advocatory role or
conduct which might physically interfere