Fall 2017 Course Schedule

Ethical Challenges for Government Attorneys (CANCELLED) (LAW-876-001)
James Flug

Meets: 03:00 PM - 05:50 PM (CANCELLED)

Enrolled: / Limit:

Administrator Access


Assessment: Term paper, with personal consultation during the research, writing, and grading process; pre-selected roles in class simulations of cases; and general class participation, including questioning of guest experts and of actual participants in key cases.


{*Previously posted version revised to cover recent noteworthy ethical challenges affecting lawyers in, or seeking high positions in, the new administration.}

Close examination of serious ethical issues involving US Government attorneys, e.g. an AG nominee’s flagrant untruths at his Senate Hearing (1972), the unraveling of the broad and top-heavy “Watergate” conspiracy in the same administration, DOJ’s secret legal stamp of approval on Torture (2002) and the subsequent Administration’s more public approach to Drone policy. Using historic cases involving Presidents from Nixon to Obama, as well as the growing list of both similar & novel government lawyer ethical issues in the new Administration, the seminar will study government attorneys’ ethical responsibilities in articulating & implementing legal standards and assisting in policy creation. Class discussions will address the effectiveness -- and impact on public confidence -- of existing ethical constraints on government lawyers from state & national bar rules, federal rules, regulations, statutes, Congressional ethics processes, Office of Government Ethics, Inspectors General, DOJ Professional Responsibility Office, Judicial Conference, Circuit Councils, and international agencies.

Textbooks and Other Materials

The textbook information on this page was provided by the instructor. Students should use this information when considering purchases from the AU Campus Store or other vendors. Students may check to determine if books are currently available for purchase online.

No textbooks are required. Most reading and discussion materials will be available on the Web, posted on the class website or on hold at the Library.

First Class Readings

Week 1 reading & discussion options will be posted in advance. Email Prof. Flug (flug@american.edu) to arrange a phone call re any questions. Prospective class members should search for & skim (or listen to) some new and old items online to sample the wide range of ethical challenges, and ethical (& unethical) responses, facing federal attorneys and clients, and the wide range of results. E.G., if you don’t already recognize the words “Saturday Night Massacre,” the “extraordinary improprieties” standard, the “Kleindienst-ITT” saga [re-told in a 1/9/17 POGO.org post, as part of its Sessions A.G. nomination analysis], the “emoluments clause,” the 25th Amendment - or missed Meet the Press on July 9, it should be easy (and frequently enjoyable) to catch up quickly.