Immigration Status Must Stay Out of Civil Matters

     (CN) – Lawyers cannot use a person’s immigration status to intimidate them in civil suits because it may dissuade claims and wrongfully influence a jury, the Washington Supreme Court ruled.
     The nine-member court issued a clarification to Rule 4.4, Respect for Rights of Third Persons, of the court’s Rules of Professional Conduct on July 10.
     The new comment imposes a duty that “includes a lawyer’s assertion or inquiry about a third person’s immigration status when the lawyer’s purpose is to intimidate, coerce, or obstruct that person for participating in a civil matter,” according to the order. “Issues involving immigration status carry a significant danger of interfering with the proper functioning of the justice system.”
     An implied assertion of a person’s immigration status is the same as an expressed assertion and can be a violation of the rule, the court added.
     The clarification appears to be based on Rule 4.4 of the American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct and its comment section, the ABA Journal reports.
     A party’s immigration status is not expressly discussed in the ABA version, however. Washington’s clarification will go into effect on Sept. 1.

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