INTRODUCTION: THE ETHICS OF LAWYERS IN GOVERNMENT

Margaret C. Tarkington

Professor of Law and Dean’s Fellow, IU McKinney School of Law

Co-Director, J.D. Program Evaluation & Assessment

It is likely impossible to articulate or capture the importance of ethics in government. Corruption in government, or, as Vincent Blasi stated, “the abuse of official power” is, in fact, “an especially serious evil.” Government officials can commandeer the police power of the state and the full weight of government power to their selfish ends if their abuse of that power is not checked.

Oddly enough, lawyers—both inside and outside of government service—provide a major role in checking the use and abuse of government power and official self-dealing. Lawyers inside government service have the opportunity to be gatekeepers for the rule of law and defenders of due process. The basic premise of due process is that government will not deprive people of life, liberty, and property without adherence to legal processes and substantive rights. Government lawyers are poised to uphold due process and constitutional governance—and thus arguably have a heightened duty to ensure that their client is acting justly and in accordance with law. [Read entire article here].