Conspiring to defraud the U.S. Government. Was that wrong?

This one left me stunned.  Even as the author of this column.

As most readers know, I’m a big fan of pub trivia.  The MVP on any pub quiz team is the person who can nail the “music round.”  A great tidbit of music trivia is that 10cc sang The Things We Do For Love. The relevant line today:

“You lay your bets and then you pay the price,

The things we do for love.”

First, and by way of background, Was That Wrong? is a semi-regular column on Ethical Grounds. The column features stories of the absurd & outrageous from the world of legal ethics and attorney discipline. My aim is to highlight misconduct that I hope you’ll instinctively avoid without needing me to convene a continuing legal education seminar that cautions you to do so.

The column is inspired by the “Red Dot” episode of Seinfeld. In the episode, George Costanza has sex in his office with a character known only as “the cleaning woman.”  His boss finds out.  Here’s their ensuing exchange:

(Scene) In the boss’ office.

  • Boss: I’m going to get right to the point. It has come to my attention that you and the cleaning woman have engaged in sexual intercourse on the desk in your office. Is that correct?
  • George: Who said that?
  • Boss: She did.
  • George: Was that wrong? Should I have not done that? I tell you I gotta plead ignorance on this thing because if anyone had said anything to me at all when I first started here that that sort of thing was frowned upon, you know, cause I’ve worked in a lot of offices and I tell you people do that all the time.
  • Boss: You’re fired.
  • George: Well, you didn’t have to say it like that.

The full script is HERE.  The scene is HERE.

Now, onto today’s story.

I’m fairly confident that none of our judges has a spouse who will end up charged with federal crimes.

I’m as confident that those who do understand the risks of tampering with the government’s witnesses.

Finally, I’m even more confident that those who are removed from the bench for witness tampering in a spouse’s criminal cases will not later engage in an elaborate scheme to convince the Federal Bureau of Prisons that their convicted spouse is an alcoholic when, in fact, they know that their spouse is not.

This one also left me feeling naïve.

Who knew there were businesses that, for a fee, would help convicted persons learn to lie their way into prison programming that would help them gain early release?

The story comes via Bloomberg Law (sub. req.) and the Legal Profession Blog.  The relevant documents from the disciplinary case are here.  I urge you to scroll to the “agreed upon statement of facts.” It begins on page 18 of the PDF.

Anyhow, here’s how I envision the Was That Wrong? adaptation:

  • Court: We’re going to get right to the point. It has come to our attention that you and others conspired to get your wife into prison programming for which you knew she did not qualify?
  • Lawyer: Who said that?
  • Court: You did. When you pled guilty to conspiring to defraud the U.S. Government.
  • Lawyer: Was that wrong? Should I have not done that? I tell you I gotta plead ignorance on this thing because if anyone had said anything to me at all when I first started here that that sort of thing was frowned upon, you know, cause I’ve worked in a lot of offices and I tell you people do that all the time.
  • Court: Disbarred.
  • Lawyer: Well, you didn’t have to say it like that.

Lay your bets indeed.

costanza

Prior Entries:

Five for Friday #180

Happy Friday!

So, 180.

As I pondered today’s post last night, my thoughts turned to “180 degrees” and how life would be completely different but for a single choice made somewhere along the way.  I considered a post in which I shared a decision I made that I wish I hadn’t.  One that kept me from travelling a different path that, looking back, I wish I was on.

I think we all have moments where we wonder if things would’ve turned out differently “if only I’d done THAT instead.”  Or, moments in which we chastise ourselves and lament “if only I could do it all over again.”  My sense is that many within the legal profession are nodding knowingly.

The point of today’s blog is to take the opposite approach.  To remember all the good in my life and to be thankful for the critical decisions (and people who helped me to make them) that led me down a path I’m fortunate to be on.  I’m no expert, but, to me, gratefulness is more likely to increase wellness than is regret.  So, I vow to do my best adopt an outlook that is 180 degrees different from “if only.”  That is, no matter what happens, to control what I can control: my approach to what happens next, with a positive approach far healthier than a negative.

And then I remembered something that I saw yesterday.

My office is across the street from Hen of the Wood.  The restaurant has been closed since August 6 due to a fire. I’m sure the owners wish the fire never happened.  But, it did and now all that they can control is their reaction.  I love their outlook.

First, check out the notice on their website.  The first two things that they want you to know? Zero damage and everyone was evacuated safely.  In other words, things to be grateful for.

More importantly (at least to a blogger whose posts regularly reference SeinfeldThe Office, and lyrics) check out the pictures that recently appeared in the large windows at Hen of the Wood.

First, we have an image The Fire episode of Seinfeld. It’s George Costanza shoving an elderly woman with a walker out of the way as he flees the small kitchen fire that started at his girlfriend’s son’s birthday party.  Alas, even before the embers had stopped smoking, George was Robin’s ex-boyfriend.

Seinfeld

Second, Dwight Schrute in The Fire episode of The Office.  The Assistant (to the) Regional Manager is proudly displaying the cause of the fire that required Dunder Mifflin employees to evacuate office: a pita that Ryan accidentally cooked on the toaster oven’s “oven” setting instead of “toast.”

Dwight

Finally, although not as easy to see, in a third window, Hen of the Wood hung a giant poster of the lyrics to Billy Joel’s We Didn’t Start the Fire:

Lyrics

The folks who manage Hen of the Wood had a few different ways to react to the fire that has left them closed for nearly three months. I applaud them for reacting in a way that, quite likely, is 180 degrees different than what I would’ve done.  Their gratefulness and humor are terrific reminders that while we can’t always control what happens to us, we can always control our reaction.

Onto the quiz!

Rules

  • None.  Open book, open search engine, text/phone/email-a-friend.
  • Exception – but one that is loosely enforced – #5 (“loosely” = “aspirational”)
  • Unless stated otherwise, the Vermont Rules of Professional Conduct apply
  • Team entries welcome, creative team names even more welcome.
  • E-mail answers to michael.kennedy@vermont.gov
  • I’ll post the answers & Honor Roll on Monday
  • Please don’t use the “comment” feature to post your answers
  • Please consider sharing the quiz with friends & colleagues
  • Please consider sharing the quiz on social media.  Hashtag it – #fiveforfriday

Question 1

Which lawyer will disciplinary counsel likely treat differently than the others?  A lawyer who:

  • A.   works for a contingent fee in a criminal case.
  • B.   fails to keep copies of his advertisements for at least two years.
  • C.   engages in “puffery” during negotiations with opposing counsel.
  • D.  deposits her own money in trust, but only in an amount necessary to cover bank charges that she knows will occur.

Question 2

Lawyer represents Brady in Brady v. Mayfield.  Lawyer knows that Mayfield is represented by counsel.

Lawyer answers a phone call.  It’s Mayfield.  Before Lawyer can react, Mayfield asks if Lawyer has a few minutes to discuss settlement.  Mayfield adds “i’m calling you directly because I’m trying to keep my legal bills down.  Once we resolve this, I’ll get with my attorney and have her write it up”

You may assume that Mayfield’s lawyer has not consented to Lawyer communicating directly with Mayfield.  Which is most accurate?

  • A.   Lawyer may negotiate with Mayfield.  The rule doesn’t apply when a represented party voluntarily initiates communication.
  • B.   Lawyer must immediately terminate the call.

Question 3

Rule 1.2(d) prohibits a lawyer from assisting a client to violate the law.  The rule draws no distinction between state and federal law.  As such, two years ago, Vermont adopted a comment to the rule.

The new comment makes it clear that Vermont lawyers can provide advice and assistance to clients as long as the lawyer (1) reasonably believes that the conduct in permitted under state law, and (2) advises the client of the potential consequences of the conduct under federal law.

The new comment is aimed at lawyers who assist clients on matters related to Vermont’s statutes, rules, and regulations on ____________________.

Question 4

Firm has long represented two clients:  A and B.   For years, Client A has worked with Lawyer, while Client B has worked with Attorney.

A intends to sue B.  Both A and B want their long-time counsel to represent them and, as such, are willing to waive the conflict.

Under Vermont’s rule, if A and B consent, can Lawyer and Attorney represent their long-time clients in A vs. B.?

  • A.  No.
  • B.  Yes, if each gives informed consent, confirmed in writing.
  • C.   Yes, if each gives informed consent, confirmed in writing and each is advised of the desirability of checking with outside counsel before giving consent.
  • D.  Yes, if each gives informed consent, confirmed in writing and Firm employs reasonable measures to screen A and B from access to each other’s files/client information.

Question 5

Today’s question is inspired by the lyrics posted in the window at Hen of the Wood.

This lawyer was 20 when he graduated from Columbia Law School. He had to wait until he was 21 to be admitted to the bar. Three years later, he gained national prominence for his role as an Assistant United State Attorney in the federal government’s prosecution of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg.

He parlayed that into a job as chief counsel to United States Senator Joseph McCarthy, where he joined Robert Kennedy as counsel on Senator McCarthy’s most well-known committee.

Later, after leaving McCarthy’s office, he had a long career in private practice. Among others, he represented Donald Trump’s business interests and the New York Yankees in litigation that followed the famous George Brett “Pine Tar” incident.

In 1986, the State of New York disbarred him for misappropriation of client funds, lying on his bar application, and pressuring a dying a client to change a will to leave the client’s fortune to himself (the lawyer).

People my age might have learned about him by listening to Billy Joel’s We Didn’t Start the Fire.

Name the lawyer.

 

 

 

Fake Lawyer Loses Job. Think deeper.

John Grisham’s The Rooster Bar is a novel.  That is, it’s a work of fiction.

Image result for the rooster bar images

The plot?

Without giving much away: three law students drop out of law school.  Under fake names, they pose as lawyers, open a law firm, and represent clients without ever having passed the bar exam or obtained law licenses.

Sometimes life imitates art.

Last week, an assistant public defender in Illinois was fired after a judge discovered that she did not have a license to practice law and had never passed the bar exam.  The law school grad had worked on “about 80 cases” since being hired last fall.  The ABA Journal,  Belleville News-DemocratEdwardsville Intelligencer and the Madison-St. Clair Record reported the story.

I considered posting this in the Was That Wrong? format.  For several reasons, I opted not to.  One of those reasons was my reaction to an aspect of the story,

Per the Madison-St. Clair Record, the non-lawyer’s former boss:

  • “said that he typically reviews the work of all staff, discussing with prosecutors and his own staff as to a defender’s competence.  There was ‘never anything that stood out to make me question her abilities,’ he said.”

Per the Edwardsville Intelligencer, the non-lawyer’s former boss “had no problem with [the non-lawyer’s] work . . . other than mistakes most new attorneys encounters.”

It makes me wonder: if she was providing competent legal services to her clients, what’s that say about the bar exam requirement?

Don’t get me wrong. I am not condoning the non-lawyer’s conduct.  It was infected with deceit and, as referenced in the news reports, might be criminal.  No matter our entry requirements, the privilege to practice law should be denied to people who lie to receive it and while exercising it.  Further, the non-lawyer’s decision to misrepresent herself as a licensed lawyer raises significant concern about her judgment, honesty, and trustworthiness.  If she’ll lie about having a law license, what else will she lie about?

But that’s a question for a character and fitness committee.

The fact remains that, for 8 months, she apparently provided competent representation to her clients despite never having passed the bar exam.

Small sample size?  Yup.  Maybe time would have proven she lacked minimal competence.

Still, I know for a fact that there are law grads here in Vermont who, unfortunately, have failed the bar exam too many times to be allowed to sit for it again.  Many did good, competent work in offices both pubilc and private while continuing to study to pass the exam.  In other words, despite track records of actual competence, track records of scoring too low on exams keep them from practicing law.  Most, understandably, have left the legal profession altogether.  I’m not sure why, but I can’t help but be reminded of this 2017 post in which I argued that we cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good in the fight to increase access to legal services.

I started with Grisham.  I’ll end with Tolstoy, by way of Seinfeld and Edwin Starr.

In this scene, Elaine was wrong. The original title for War and Peace was not War, What Is It Good For?  Still, at least in the isolated incident involving the fake lawyer in Illinois, one might conclude that the bar exam was good for absolutely nothing.

Huh.

Ghost Posts. Or are yours real?

To borrow a phrase from Larry David and Teri Hatcher, my blog posts are real and they’re spectacular!  Apparently not all law blogs can truthfully say the former.

Last month, the ABA Journal posted Ghostwriting for law blogs? Ethics are murkyIt’s a topic that’s new to me, one not raised in any of the ethics inquiries or formal disciplinary complaints that I’ve responded to and reviewed over the years.  The ABA Journal post includes insight from some of the more well-known voices on both professional responsibility and tech ethics.

But let’s back up for a moment.  You might be asking your self: “self, what is Mike even talking about?”  Good question.

The ABA’s post references this article that Kailee Goold posted to Ohio + Legal Ethics in June 2014. In it, Attorney Goold wrote:

  • “What are We Talking About?

    The ghost-blogging I’m talking about is when an attorney pays someone else (a non-attorney) to write articles published under the attorney’s name on the attorney or law firm’s website. As a result, the world thinks the attorney wrote it when the attorney had little to no part in its creation.”

Again, not an issue I’ve encountered.  But, an issue that raises ethics concerns.

Many law blogs are part of a lawyer’s website.  Websites communicate information about the services that the lawyer provides. Per V.R.Pr.C. 7.1,

  • “A lawyer shall not make a false or misleading communication about the lawyer or the lawyer’s services.  A communication is false or misleading if it contains a material misrepresentation of fact or law, or omits a fact necessary to make the statement as a whole not materially misleading.”

The final sentence of Comment [1] is “whatever means are used to make known a lawyer’s services, statements about them must be truthful.”

Also, V.R.Pr.C. 8.4(c) prohibits a lawyer from engaging in conduct that involves “dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.”

So, let’s say that a firm focuses on Practice Area.  And let’s say that the firm’s website includes a blog dedicated to Practice Area.  Does the firm violate the rules by paying a content developer to ghostwrite the posts and then posting them under the “byline” of one of the firm’s lawyers?

My gut reaction was “is it really THAT misleading?” But then I paused.  Because whenever we start asking whether something “is really THAT misleading,” we’ve established that it is, in fact, misleading.

In that it never arises, I don’t want to belabor the issue.  Suffice to say, if your website or blog includes posts that you paid someone else to ghostwrite, check out the articles referenced above.

Finally, I proof read by reading aloud.  Reading this blog about law blogs aloud reminded me of two things.

First, it reminded me of Elizabeth Kruska & Wesley Lawrence, perennial members of the #fiveforfriday Honor Roll in Legal Ethics.

Why them?

Because, like me, I know they’re fans of the second thing that reading today’s post aloud reminded me of: the world’s greatest law blog – The Bob Loblaw Law Blog.

See the source image

 

Monday Morning Answers #131

Happy Monday!

For those of you who venture to the NEK to bike or run, I highly recommend the Beebe Spur Rail Trail. I found it this weekend.  From the hospital, it’s just over 5 miles to the border.  Flat, packed gravel, beautiful views of Lake Memphramagog.  Or, add a few miles by parking downtown and using the Newport Rec Path to get to Beebe Spur. More great views.

Beebe

Friday’s questions are here.  Today’s answers follow the Honor Roll.

Honor Roll

Answers

Question 1

You’re at a CLE.  You hear me say:

  • “The privilege is different from the rule.  The rule talks about ‘information relating to the representation.’ A comment makes clear that the rule encompasses more than the privilege.”

What was I talking about?

  • A. File delivery & work product
  • B.  Client confidences.  Rule 1.6(a), Comment [3].
  • C.  Storing client information in the cloud
  • D.  Inadvertent production of privileged information

Question 2

In Vermont, most conflicts are imputed from the conflicted lawyer to other lawyers in the same firm.

True or false: unlike other conflicts, imputed conflicts cannot be waived by the affected client.

FALSE.  Rule 1.10(c).

Question 3

Lawyer called me with an inquiry. I listened, then said:

  • “It depends. Did you receive information that could be significantly harmful to the person?”

Most likely, “the person” refers to:

  • A.  a former client of Lawyer’s
  • B.  a current client of Lawyer’s
  • C.  a prospective  client who met with, but did not retain, Lawyer.  Rule 1.18(c).
  • D.  opposing counsel

Question 4

How long must Vermont lawyers keep copies of advertisements?

  • A.   2 years
  • B.   6 years
  • C.   It depends. Print ads or electronic ads?
  • D.   They don’t.  The rule requiring retention of ads was repealed in 2009.

Question 5

As I mentioned above, 131 includes 3.1.   Rule 3.1 makes it a disciplinary violation to file a frivolous lawsuit.

One of the most misunderstood lawsuits of all time involved hot coffee and McDonald’s.  It’s not as frivolous as the legend that has grown around it would have you believe.

Anyhow, the suit served as the inspiration for an episode of a famous tv show in which one of the main characters sued Java World for burns that resulted from hot coffee.  Java World was prepared to make an opening offer of free coffee for life and $50,000.

The character & his lawyer showed up to meet with representatives from Java World and their attorney.  The Java World attorney said “we are prepared to offer you all the free coffee you want at any of our stores throughout North America and Europe, plus . . .”

Before he could finish, the character jumped from his seat, shook the Java World’s attorney’s hand and, without consulting with counsel, exclaimed “I’ll take it!!!!”

Name the character.

Cosmo Kramer, Seinfeld.  The scene is here.

Was That Wrong?

Don’t forget to send me your votes for Top 3 novels involving the law, a lawyer, or lawyers!

Now, I know it has only been a week since I posted a Was That Wrong?, but as they say, you’ve got to go where the evidence leads you.  Plus, for those of you for whom the next few days will include a daunting amount of time with family, today’s topic will likely serve as better conversation fodder than a more scholarly post – to the extent any of my posts can be described as “scholarly.”

As a blogger, this year I’m thankful for the lawyer who managed the impossible: multiple Was That Wrong? moments in a single disciplinary case.

Was That Wrong? is a semi-regular column on Ethical Grounds. The column features stories of the absurd & outrageous from the world of legal ethics and attorney discipline. My aim is to highlight misconduct that I hope you’ll instinctively avoid without needing me to convene a continuing legal education seminar that cautions you to do so.

The column is inspired by the “Red Dot” episode of Seinfeld. In the episode, George Costanza has sex in his office with a character known only as “the cleaning woman.”  His boss finds out.  Here’s their ensuing exchange :

(Scene) In the boss’ office.

  • Boss: I’m going to get right to the point. It has come to my attention that you and the cleaning woman have engaged in sexual intercourse on the desk in your office. Is that correct?
  • George: Who said that?
  • Boss: She did.
  • George: Was that wrong? Should I have not done that? I tell you I gotta plead ignorance on this thing because if anyone had said anything to me at all when I first started here that that sort of thing was frowned upon, you know, cause I’ve worked in a lot of offices and I tell you people do that all the time.
  • Boss: You’re fired.
  • George: Well you didn’t have to say it like that.

The full script is HERE.  The scene is HERE.

Today’s column involves a lawyer suspended for 4 months by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.  The order was reported by the ABA Journal, the Legal Profession Blog, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Someday I hope to launch a YouTube channel tied to this blog.  When I do, I’ll adapt Was That Wrong entries to the screen.  Here’s how I envision scripting today’s:

  • Supreme Court:  We’re going to get right to the point.  It’s come to our attention that you smuggled two toothbrushes and some red pepper to a client who was in jail.
  • Lawyer:  Who said that?
  • Supreme Court:  The guards found the toothbrushes and red pepper inside a legal file that was in a bag your brought to the client.  In jail, toothbrushes can be converted in shanks & red pepper made into pepper spray.
  • Supreme Court: It has also come to our attention that you utterly failed to communicate with a different client.
  • Lawyer:  Who said that?
  • Supreme Court: The client did.
  • Supreme Court: And, finally, it has come to our attention that at the hearing on your failure to communicate with the client, you argued that the client called your office phone instead of your cell phone and, in any event, that you had regularly e-mailed him.
  • Lawyer:  Yes.
  • Supreme Court: He didn’t have an e-mail account.
  • Lawyer: Was all of this wrong? Should I have not done any of it? I tell you I gotta plead ignorance on this thing because if anyone had said anything to me at all when I first started practicing that that sort of thing was frowned upon, you know, cause I’ve worked in a lot of offices and I tell you people do this stuff all the time.
  • Supreme Court:  4 month suspension.
  • Lawyer:  Well you didn’t have to say it like that.

costanza

 

Was That Wrong?

It’s been a while.

Was That Wrong? is a semi-regular column in which I focus on stories of the absurd & outrageous from the world of legal ethics and attorney discipline. My aim is to highlight misconduct that I hope you’ll instinctively avoid without needing me to convene a continuing legal education seminar that cautions you to do so.

For example, our most recent discussion of the the perils of representing BOTH plaintiff and defendant while sleeping with defendant.

Today, and as reported by the ABA Journal, The Indiana Lawyer, and NMI.com, we have the story of an Indiana prosecutor who has been suspended for 4 years for listening in on conversations between murder suspects and their lawyers.  The Indiana Supreme Court’s order is here.

Hint: it’s never a good sign for a lawyer when the Supreme Court’s very first statement in discussing the appropriate sanction is:

“There is, quite thankfully, scant precedent in our disciplinary annals for misconduct such as this.”

This column is inspired by the “Red Dot” episode of Seinfeld. In the episode, George Costanza has sex in his office with a character known only as “the cleaning woman.”  His boss finds out.  Here’s their ensuing exchange :

(Scene) In the boss’ office.

  • Boss: I’m going to get right to the point. It has come to my attention that you and the cleaning woman have engaged in sexual intercourse on the desk in your office. Is that correct?
  • George: Who said that?
  • Boss: She did.
  • George: Was that wrong? Should I have not done that? I tell you I gotta plead ignorance on this thing because if anyone had said anything to me at all when I first started here that that sort of thing was frowned upon, you know, cause I’ve worked in a lot of offices and I tell you people do that all the time.
  • Boss: You’re fired.
  • George: Well you didn’t have to say it like that.

The full script is HERE.  The scene is HERE.

Someday I hope to launch a YouTube channel tied to this blog.  When I do, I’ll adapt Was That Wrong entries to the screen.  Here’s how I envision scripting today’s:

  • Supreme Court: We’re going to get right to the point. It has come to our attention that, as a criminal prosecutor, you used technology to listen in on privileged conversations between suspects and their lawyers.  Is that correct?
  • Lawyer:  Who said that?
  • Supreme Court:  You did.  So did police chief who tried to tell you it was wrong.
  • Lawyer: Was that wrong? Should I have not done that? I tell you I gotta plead ignorance on this thing because if anyone had said anything to me at all when I first started practicing that that sort of thing was frowned upon, you know, cause I’ve worked in a lot of offices and I tell you people do that all the time.
  • Supreme Court:  4 year suspension.
  • Lawyer:  Well you didn’t have to say it like that.

*********************************************************************************

Here are the previous entries in Was That Wrong?

costanza

Monday Morning Answers: Kentucky Derby Edition

Friday’s questions are HERE.  As usual, when it comes to cashing on the Derby, I’m left Always Dreaming.

But congrats Jeanne Kennedy! My mom had Always Dreaming to win AND to place, which was good enough for a tidy little payoff and, more importantly, honorable mention Honor Roll status.  Given her success and Saturday’s sloppy track, I guess my mother is a mudder.

Spoiler alert – the answers to Friday’s questions appear immediately after the Honor Roll.

HONOR ROLL

Answers

Question 1

Pletcher is a former client of Lawyer’s.  Lawyer took Pletcher’s case on a contingent fee. By rule, what must Lawyer maintain for 6 years following the termination of the representation of Pletcher?

  • A.    A copy of Pletcher’s file
  • B.    A copy of Pletcher’s fee agreement
  • C.    Records of any property or funds held in connection with the representation of Pletcher.  V.R.Pr.C. 1.15(a)(1)
  • D.   Nothing.

Note: the rules do not require lawyers to maintain copies of closed files.  Rather, Rule 1.16(d) requires a lawyer to surrender the file upon the termination of a representation.  If a lawyer chooses to keep a copy (which the lawyer’s liability policy might require) the lawyer is keeping a copy for the lawyer’s own purposes, not because the rules require it.

Question 2

Baffert is a long time client of Attorney. Last night, Baffert met with Attorney for legal advice.  During the meeting, Baffert told Attorney some bad things that he intends to do tomorrow.  As a result, Attorney reasonably believes that Baffert will commit a crime that is certain to result in substantial injury to the financial interests of Lukas.  Attorney has no reason to believe that Lukas or anyone else will suffer bodily injury.

Which is most accurate?

  • A.   Attorney must disclose Baffert’s intent
  • B.   Attorney must not disclose Baffert’s intent
  • C.   If Baffert is using or has used Attorney’s services to further the crime, Attorney must disclose Baffert’s intent.  V.R.Pr.C. 1.6(b)(2)
  • D.  If Baffert is using or has used Attorney’s services to further the crime, Attorney may disclose Baffert’s intent.

The key here is whether Baffert is using or has used Attorney’s services to further the crime.  If so, disclosure is mandatory.

Question 3

It’s Monday afternoon.

Late Saturday evening, Client was arrested and charged with DUI.  Fortunately (I guess) for Client, he had just won $2500 as a result of McCracken’s stunning victory in the 2017 Kentucky Derby. So, on Monday morning, Client retained Lawyer who agreed to handle the DUI for a $2500 flat fee.  Client and Lawyer decided not to confirm the fee agreement in writing.

Now, on Monday afternoon, which is most accurate?

  • A.   Lawyer violated the rules.
  • B.   Lawyer may not deposit the $2500 into her IOLTA account
  • C.    Lawyer must deposit the $2500 into her IOLTA
  • D.   A & B

The rules do not require the fee agreement to be reduced to writing.  However, since it was not reduced to writing, it does not qualify as a type of advanced fee that Lawyer may treat as “earned upon receipt.”  See, V.R.Pr.C. 1.5(e)(2).  We are left, then, with a fee that is paid advanced.  Per Rule 1.15(c), the $2500 must go into trust until earned.

Question 4

Attorney represents Irish War Cry.  Opposing Counsel represents Classic Empire.

Reviewing discovery that has been provided by Opposing Counsel, Attorney finds information that Attorney concludes was inadvertently produced.

Which is most accurate?

  • A.   Attorney must notify Opposing Counsel.  V.R.Pr.C., 4.4(b)
  • B.   Attorney may notify Opposing Counsel
  • C.   Attorney must first consult with Irish War Cry
  • D.   Attorney’s duties under the Rules of Professional Conduct necessarily depend upon whether the information falls under the evidentiary privilege that Classic Empire shares with Opposing Counsel.

Question 5

Mick is a criminal defense attorney.  His ex-wife is a prosecutor who bears a striking resemblance to one of the players in last week’s Question 5: Mona Lisa Vito.

Mick represents Louis Roulet, an ultra-rich playboy who is accused of a brutal crime. At first, Mick is convinced that Roulet is innocent. However, as the case progresses, Mick’s doubts grow.  Eventually, Roulet tells Mick that he (Roulet) previously committed a different crime . . . a murder for which one of Mick’s former clients, Jesus Martinez, is serving life in prison!

Identify the movie in which Mick confronts the many ethical dilemmas associated with his knowledge that a current client committed a crime for which a former client has been convicted.

(Of lesser importance is whether Mick’s driver, another former client, might have grounds to complain that Mick has charged him an unreasonable fee.)

The Lincoln Lawyer.

Lincoln Lawyer.jpg