In our previous post, I noted that I had sent an e-mail to Governor Riley after he had appeared on Bill O'Reilly's Fox television show in November 2005 and encouraged anyone to let him know of problems they had encountered in Alabama's justice system. This came after Riley had called for a boycott of Aruba over concerns about the handling of the investigation into the disappearance of Natalee Holloway, an Alabama resident.
I took Riley up on his offer, and through an e-mail form on the governor's official Web site, I let him know about repeated instances of unlawful rulings I had witnessed by Republican judges in Alabama, starting in Shelby County trial courts and going up to the Alabama Supreme Court. Riley sent me a letter, saying he had referred my message to Ken Wallis, his chief legal advisor. I said in my post that I had never heard anything from Wallis.
In another recent post, I noted that a lawyer in Alabama is required to report wrongdoing by other lawyers or judges.
Rule 8.3 of the Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct states that when a lawyer possesses knowledge of professional misconduct, he must report it to an appropriate authority or tribunal. The rule states that self-regulation of the legal profession requires an attorney to initiate investigation when he knows of a violation, and a lawyer is obliged to report every violation of the rules. The failure to report a violation, the rule states, is itself a professional offense.
I filed my complaint on the governor's Web site form and was not able to keep a copy. But my memory is that I provided considerable detail about the wrongs I had witnessed. Governor Riley stated in his response that he had forwarded my information to Mr. Wallis. And yet, almost two years after the filing of my complaint, I have no indication that Mr. Wallis took any action.
Does Governor Riley expect his chief legal advisor to live up to the ethical rules of the legal profession? Would the Alabama State Bar hold the governor's aide accountable for failing to report professional misconduct?