I'M THE FIRST to agree that lawyers are not paragons of virtue. But most of us try to abide by both the letter, and the spirit, of the law. This is particularly so when it comes to our ethical obligations. It is a violation of the Model Rules of Professional Responsibility to date a client while that person is still your client. Unless you were intimate prior to the commencement of the attorney-client relationship, it is


to engage in

hankus pankus


There's just something about the whole scenario that makes you go "ick." It's degoutant, as the French would say (although as I noted this week on my blog, there's not much these days that seems to disgust the French).

That's why I have a hard time feeling any sympathy, let alone solidarity, with Jennifer Mitrick - the amazingly still-employed Philadelphia assistant district attorney who allegedly had an inappropriate relationship with the victim in one of her drug cases.

The fact that the victim was an alleged (snicker, snicker) drug dealer just makes it worse.

Now it's true that the victim of a crime is not necessarily the "client" of the lawyer prosecuting that crime. But we're splitting hairs.

The thing that really upsets me as a lawyer is the response from the District Attorney's Office about Mitrick's ethical collapse ("lapse" isn't strong enough), as quoted by spokeswoman Tasha Jamerson: "Jennifer Mitrick is not facing any disciplinary action."

Now if that means she's already been disciplined, as in brought before the Disciplinary Board of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, that's one thing. If, on the other hand, it means that she's just been reassigned and never actually had to answer to a higher authority for her execrable judgment on conflicts of interest, that's quite another.

I am tired of having to apologize for the missteps of so many of my brethren (and in this case, sisteren). In my opinion, if the story is true, this is one attorney who shouldn't ever again be able to try a criminal case.

Because all is not fair in love and warrants.

For more from Christine Flowers, check out the Flowers Show: philly.com /philly/ blogs/flowers show/