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OBA Ethics Counsel

Ethics Opinion No. 159

Adopted October 8, 1952

QUERY

A lawyer has asked for an opinion concerning the propriety of the use of the following letter, which letter was sent to the debtor:

HAROLD BLANK

Attorney at Law

321 Court Bldg.

Blank, Oklahoma

April 23, 1952

Justice of the Peace,

Midwest City, Oklahoma.

Dear Sir:

Richard Roe, assignee for Dr. Doakes

In the Matter of the v.

Claim of

John City, $30.00 311 E. Main St., Midwest City, Okla.

Please have a constable or deputy sheriff verify the above address at once. Then notify me, so I can send you the necessary papers for immediate suit, garnishment, attachment, execution, replevin or whatever action we decide will get the quickest and best results.

Enclosed find stamped envelope for your prompt reply, as I want to start action immediately.

Yours truly,

Harold Blank

OPINION

It is improper for a lawyer to deliver or mail to a debtor, prior to the institution of an action upon an account, an instrument resembling process, although in the form of a letter and addressed at large to a "Justice of the Peace".

The only conclusion that can be reached is that the letter was never sent to any Justice of the Peace, nor was it intended to be sent to such; had it been so sent or intended it would have identified a particular Justice of the Peace by name.

The obvious purpose of the letter is to create the impression that judicial proceedings have been commenced for collection of the account; being misleading its use borders on the "fraud or chicane" prohibited by Canon 15; and its use is clearly inconsistent with the duty of a lawyer which is at all times to uphold honor and to maintain the dignity of the profession.