Settlement Negotiations: The Grievance Committee on direct or indirect threats of criminal proceedings

“It is unethical to interject, directly or indirectly, the threat of criminal proceedings in a civil matter unless there is a good faith basis for the complaint and the attorney intends to file such a complaint. The criminal system is intended for the protection of the public and not to gain the upper-hand in settlement negotiations. The Respondent’s argument has also been rejected by several foreign jurisdictions. The courts have found that an indirect threat to press criminal charges by sending information to a government representative or agency is a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct. We find this foreign law persuasive.”  see Douglas Fleming, Complainant vs. Arthur D. Machado, Respondent Grievance Complaint #07-0062