Features – Criminal Justice Ethics Sources on the Internet

Ken Strutin (JD, MLS) is an experienced law librarian, criminal defense attorney, and well-known writer and speaker. He is the author of The Insider’s Guide: Criminal Justice Resources on the Internet, and has lectured extensively about the benefits of using the Internet for legal research at national and local CLE training programs. Mr. Strutin also wrote ALI-ABA’s Practice Checklist Manual on Representing Criminal Defendants, and co-authored the award winning Legal Research Methodology computer tutorial, published by the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI). He has contributed chapters to several books and written many articles concerning knowledge management, legal research and criminal law. Mr. Strutin has taught courses in Advanced Legal Research and Law Office Management. He is also listed in Who’s Who in American Law. Currently, Mr. Strutin is the Director of Legal Information Services at the New York State Defenders Association and writes a column for the New York Law Journal.


Criminal justice ethics is multifaceted and spans many professional and disciplinary boundaries. This bibliography focuses on the Internet sources of codes, ethical opinions and other materials governing the conduct of legal professionals, and collections with links to codes for other professionals in the criminal justice system.

Ethics Collections and Finding Aids Lawyer Codes of Professional Conduct Court Rules Criminal Defense Ethics
Criminal Justice Ethics Prosecution Ethics Judicial Ethics Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal Ethics Hotlines Legal Ethics Attorneys and Experts Current Awareness Databases and Other Internet Sources
Further Reading

Ethics Collections and Finding Aids

These sources include bar association center publications, library finding aids, and academic resources. They are listed here because they collect primary materials (codes, opinions, and analytical material) or provide guidance in locating them.

  • Legal Ethics Blog
    This is an online legal ethics journal with current postings about significant new developments, and a substantial collection of research materials. The site is maintained by Attorney Ben Cowgill.
  • Center for Professional Responsibility (American Bar Association)
    The American Bar Association (ABA) has collected its vast resources on legal ethics into one place. This site includes full-text model rules and codes, ABA ethics opinion headnotes accessible through ETHICSearch, articles, news releases, special reports, and a list of print publications
  • Legal Ethics Research Guide (Virtual Chase)
    This is a collection of federal and state sources of ethics codes that apply to lawyers, judges and government officials. There is also a section containing annotated legal ethics resources.
  • Legal Ethics Resource Guide (Cornell University School of Law)
    This is an annotated bibliography of print and electronic resources on legal ethics and professional responsibility. Topics covered include: websites; ABA and state codes, rules, and opinions; periodicals; research aids; and treatises on specific subjects, such as criminal law.
  • Ethics and Professional Responsibility Law Guide (FindLaw)
    This is a collection of various web-based resources on legal ethics. It includes: publications in the FindLaw Library; and directories of government agencies, organizations, discussion groups, and websites.
  • Law Scout (University of Akron School of Law)
    This is a compilation of legal research guides, pathfinders, bibliographies and tutorials published by U.S. law schools. They cover a broad range of topics including ethics and professional responsibility, and highlight state specific research tools. Brief descriptions of each school’s collection are included.
  • Researching Professional Responsibility (University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, updated 2000)
    This is a guide for researching legal ethics questions. It was prepared by Professor Barbara Glesner Fines at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law. It describes the main sources of authority and various online and print tools for answering ethics questions.

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Lawyer Codes of Professional Conduct

Researchers can find quick access to the black letter ABA Code, Model Rules and state codes online, as well as codes from other states.

  • Model Code of Professional Responsibility (ABA)
    This is an annotated copy of the Code published by the ABA and used by many states as the template for developing their rules of professional responsibility.
  • Model Rules of Professional Conduct (ABA)
    This is a black letter version of the Model Rules with links to commentaries. Other editions with more extensive analysis are noted on this site and can be purchased from the ABA.
  • State Ethics Rules (Mercer University, Walter F. George School of Law
    This is a collection of links to legal ethics codes and opinions from around the country. The site is maintained by Professor David Hricik.

Court Rules

Appellate courts have adopted rules governing attorney conduct, and the procedures for disciplinary actions and filing grievances. Many of these rules and procedures can be found on court websites and bar association sources.

  • Court Rules, Forms and Dockets (LLRX)
    This free resource contains over 1,400 links to federal and state court rules, and the database is regularly updated by veteran law librarian Margaret Berkland.

Criminal Defense Ethics

Some ethics opinions concerning criminal defense practice can be found in the general sources noted above. Standards, resolutions, reports and other materials can be found on national and local public defense organization and bar association websites.


  • American Council of Chief Defenders (ACCD)
    This group is devoted to improving the justice system through policy advocacy and ensuring quality representation for those facing criminal prosecution and unable to afford counsel. Among the resources available is their first ethics opinion concerning excessive caseloads. ACCD is a section of the National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA).
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Ethics Opinions (NACDL)
    This site contains a selection of ethics opinions issued by the NACDL Ethics Advisory Committee on such topics as client perjury, privileged communication, and plea bargaining.


  • ABA Principal Indigent Defense Resolutions (SCLAID)
    This is a collection of ABA guidelines, principles, resolutions, and standards concerning public defense. They cover such topics as public defense delivery systems, death penalty representation, compensation for assigned counsel, and right to counsel.
  • ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants (SCLAID)
    The Committee studies issues of concern to public defense. Their resources include a collection of national and state reports and studies on Indigent Defense and Public Defender Systems.
  • Collection of Standards (NACDL)
    This is a directory of standards published or collected by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), ABA, and NLADA.
  • Collection of Standards (NLADA)
    This is a collection of standards published by NLADA, as well as ABA and state standards, and the BJA Compendium.
  • Collection of Defense Standards (NYSDA)
    This is a collection of standards, reports and other publications concerning the quality of public defense services. It links to national standards, reports, guidelines, indexes, bibliographies and related works.
  • Compendium of Standards for Indigent Defense Systems (BJA 2000)
    This is a collection of national, state, and local standards concerning indigent defense. The topics covered include: administration of defense systems; attorney performance; capital case representation; appellate representation; and juvenile justice defense. It was published by the
    Institute for Law and Justice under the aegis of the Bureau of Justice Assistance, U.S. Department of Justice.

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Criminal Justice Ethics

These are collections of codes and standards that apply to defense attorneys, prosecutors and other criminal justice professionals. In these sources, you will find links to ethical standards for police, correction officers, forensic experts and related research materials on ethical issues.

  • Codes of Ethics Online (Illinois Institute of Technology)
    This site contains a collection of more than 850 codes of ethics from professional societies, corporations, government agencies, and academic institutions. This is a good source for locating the ethical guidelines in various fields of expertise. The site is maintained by the Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions at the Illinois Institute of Technology.
  • Institute for Criminal Justice Ethics (John Jay College of Criminal Justice)
    This is a collection of ethics resources applicable to many areas of criminal justice. It includes applied and professional ethics sites for police, prosecution, forensic scientists, judges, and correctional services professionals. The Institute is involved in developing bibliographic resources and publications, and in holding conferences and training programs on criminal justice ethics.
  • National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS)
    This is a searchable library of thousands of federally funded criminal justice studies, reports and articles concerning issues related to prosecution, law enforcement, and public defense.
  • Standards for Criminal Justice (ABA)
    This collection of black letter standards is made available by the ABA Criminal Justice Section. They cover such topics as Defense Function, Criminal Appeals, Guilty Pleas, Mental Health, Pretrial Release, Sentencing, and Prosecution Function. Ordering information for print volumes with commentaries and case law citations is posted on their site.

Prosecution Ethics

Sources of ethical rules for prosecutors are grounded in the lawyer codes enacted in the states and by various agency regulations. Court decisions are also a fruitful research tool to find materials concerning breaches of ethical codes and rules.

  • National Center for Prosecution Ethics (National College of District Attorneys)
    The Center collects and develops codes, rules, advisory opinions, court decisions and legislation concerning prosecution ethics from a variety of sources. Notably, there is a Topic Index of Ethics Advisory Opinions collected from the fifty states. It also provides educational programs and guides for prosecutors. Created by the National College of District Attorneys, the Center is sponsored by the University of South Carolina School of Law and the National District Attorneys Association. Access to most resources is limited to members only.
  • Harmful Error (Center for Public Integrity)
    This is a national database of prosecutorial misconduct compiled by the Center for Public Integrity. The Center examined nearly 12,000 judicial opinions nationwide, and other sources, spanning a 30-year period. Information is organized by jurisdiction and searchable by defendant, prosecutor, state, or jurisdiction. It includes summary analyses and citation references for individual cases, as well as other resources illuminating the problems created by prosecutorial misconduct, such as wrongful conviction.

Judicial Ethics

Rules and opinions concerning judicial conduct can be found on many of the lawyer ethics sites, and through some specific collections.

  • Center for Judicial Ethics (American Judicature Society)
    The Center collects and makes available resources regarding judicial ethics nationwide. It responds to requests for information; maintains directories of investigative agencies and judicial conduct advisory committees; and publishes books and monographs, including the Judicial Conduct Reporter. This site is part of the American Judicature Society, a national nonpartisan membership organization concerned with the administration of justice.
  • Judicial Ethics Library (LII)
    This is a national collection of federal statutes, state commissions, codes of judicial conduct, judicial decisions, and other materials organized by jurisdiction and topic.
  • Model Code of Judicial Conduct (ABA)
    This is an annotated version of the ABA’s Model Code of Judicial Conduct.

Paralegals and Legal Assistants

There are several codes of conduct for paralegals that are general in scope, and adopted by many local associations. These codes compliment requirements found in other sources.

Legal Ethics Hotlines

These services are based in bar associations and usually free, otherwise there might be a charge or membership requirement. Many local and specialized bar associations have hotlines, whose contact information can be located through their websites.

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Legal Ethics Attorneys and Experts

Attorneys specializing in ethics issues and academics who teach professional responsibility are valuable resources. Practitioners can be located through bar associations and lawyer directories, academics through faculty directories and course web pages.

  • Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers (APRL)
    This is a national organization of lawyers concentrating in the fields of professional responsibility and legal ethics. The site contains a national membership directory with descriptors indicating areas of practice and expertise in professional responsibility. APRL also maintains a national clearinghouse of information (members only) that monitors recent developments and emerging issues in the areas of admission to practice, professional ethics, disciplinary standards and procedures, and professional liability.
  • Ethics Officer Association (EOA). This is a professional association for managers of ethics, compliance, and business conduct programs in many areas, including government and public administration. Among its resources are Standards of Conduct, a library of ethics materials, membership directory, and news about training events and conferences.
  • Directory of Legal Academia (LII)
    This is a list of U.S. Law Schools that includes contact information and links to the faculty directories of each institution. Law professors who teach or conduct research in ethics and professional responsibility can be located by checking the appropriate law school.
  • Martindale-Hubbell Lawyer Locator
    This online version of the Martindale-Hubbell Directory allows users to search by name, location and many other fields, including Area of Practice, such as Legal Malpractice or Professional Liability.
  • National Organization of Bar Counsel (NOBC)
    This organization is a resource for disciplinary counsel. There is a national directory of bar counsel and disciplinary lawyers. It also includes case summaries (members only), news, research links and a member’s listserv.
  • West Legal Directory (FindLaw)
    This is an attorney directory that can be searched by many different fields or browsed by such topic areas as Ethics & Professional Responsibility.
Current Awareness

In addition to monitoring the relevant sources above, updating services for legal ethics include newsletters, listservs and blogs.

  • Legal Ethics Blog
    This is an online legal ethics journal with current postings about significant new developments, and a substantial collection of research materials. The site is maintained by Attorney Ben Cowgill.
  • Law of Criminal Defense
    This website provides updates concerning ethical issues related to criminal defense written by attorney John Wesley Hall, Jr., and serves as a supplement to his treatise, Professional Responsibility in Criminal Defense Practice (West Group 2005).
  • Legal Ethics Forum
    This is a web log devoted to a wide range of discussion topics in ethics and professional responsibility. The site is maintained by University of Texas Law Professor John Dzienkowski, Cornell Law Professor Brad Wendel, and Berkeley Boalt Hall Law Lecturer John Steele.
  • Legal Ethics Listserv (WashLaw, Washburn University School of Law)
    This listserv is devoted to discussions about legal ethics. It is exclusive to lawyers, law professors, and law students.
  • Ethics and Lawyering Today Newsletter
    This is a monthly online newsletter concerning current issues in legal ethics. It includes information on new court decisions, ethics opinions, and other developments. The online archive begins in 2001. The Newsletter is authored by Attorneys William Freivogel and Lucian Pera.
  • LegalEthics.com (Internet Legal Services)
    This website reports on developments in legal ethics as they pertain to the Internet and other aspects of electronic lawyering, such as email. It has an extensive collection of research links organized by topic.

Databases and Other Internet Sources

Commercial databases and other web sources contain archived ethics rules and opinions, case law, reports, guides and other materials related to the conduct of criminal justice professionals.

  • Lexis and Westlaw
    Both services have topical collections of legal ethics research materials. They include: cases, statutes, regulations, attorney and judicial ethics codes and opinions, law reviews, treatises, legal news, bar association materials, and ALRs.
  • Internet Search Engines
    Internet search engines can uncover news, reports, articles, ethics opinions, and other resources concerning new ethics issues or hard to find materials.

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Further Reading

This is a collection of materials about conducting legal ethics research in print and online sources. It also includes specific titles on criminal defense, prosecution and judicial ethics. Links to the full-text of articles are provided where available, as well as the publishers’ websites for various treatises.

Researching Legal Ethics

Legal Ethics in General

Legal Ethics Journals

Criminal Defense Ethics

Judicial Ethics

Legal Assistants Ethics

Prosecutorial Misconduct

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Posted in: Ethics, Features, Internet Resources, Internet Resources - Web Links, Legal Research