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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pulling Out: When Can a Lawyer Abandon His Client?

Pulling Out
When can a lawyer abandon his client?
Slate by Brian Palmer  -  April 26, 2011

King & Spalding, the law firm that agreed to defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, withdrew from the case on Monday. House Republicans are furious, and some legal ethicists are concerned that it will undermine people's trust that their lawyer will stick with them. Can your lawyer just drop you? Under certain circumstances. Generally speaking, the states' rules of professional conduct permit an attorney to dump a client if the breakup won't hurt him, such at the very beginning of the case, or if there's a suitable replacement waiting in the wings. (That's the rationale King & Spalding have used to withdraw from the Defense of Marriage Act case.) However, abandonment may be acceptable even if it harms the client's interests, especially if the client has done something wrong. For example, a lawyer can walk away if the client is engaged in a continuing criminal enterprise, if he's using the lawyer to perpetuate his illegal scheme, or if the client asks the lawyer to do something illegal himself. Deadbeat clients also risk abandonment, as do those who refuse to cooperate in their own representation. If the case has already been filed with a court, the lawyer usually needs the judge's blessing to bow out. In non-litigation matters, no special permission is required.

Withdrawal from representation is a surprisingly lively area of legal ethics. Consider the classic case of the avowed perjurer. Criminal defendants have a constitutional right to take the stand in their own defense. Occasionally, one of them tells his lawyer in advance that his entire line of testimony will be lies. This scenario presents what legal scholar Monroe Freedman famously referred to as the lawyer's "trilemma." The attorney has an obligation to fight for the client's interests, a responsibility to identify perjury to the court, and a duty to keep his client's secrets. Because the client has put the attorney in a situation in which it's impossible to fulfill all three professional obligations, some lawyers see this as a situation that demands withdrawal. Unfortunately, it's not that easy. As mentioned above, an attorney can't withdraw in the middle of litigation without the judge's permission, and it's indisputably unethical for an advocate to directly inform the judge that his client is a liar. What usually happens in these cases is that the lawyer approaches the bench and asks to beg off the case for vague "ethical reasons." The judge, knowing exactly what's going on, typically denies the request, because the jury would smell a rat if the lawyer were to disappear right before the defendant took the stand. The judge, continuing the Kabuki-style exchange, informs the advocate that he has satisfied his ethical obligations and must continue. In some courts, the lawyer can protect his sense of ethics by simply putting the client on the stand and instructing him to "tell the jury his story," rather than specifically prompting the lies. There's also the controversial issue of "noisy withdrawal." Sometimes, in the course of a representation, an attorney finds out that his client has been using him as a pawn in a criminal scheme. In such cases, some legal ethicists think it's not enough to withdraw—the lawyer must also publicly disavow his prior actions in representing the client. Government regulators have supported such moves, but they raise serious concerns about confidentiality and the fiduciary duty that lawyers have to their clients—even the bad ones. A noisy withdrawal is tantamount to turning the client in. Got a question about today's news? Ask the Explainer. Explainer thanks Stephen Gillers of New York University School of Law and Thomas D. Morgan of the George Washington University Law School.

17 comments:

little person said...

Certain lawyers can do whatever they want, whenever they want, and they can get away with any/everything. But other lawyers, who have fallen out of favor, or who have powerful enemies, are screwed- like the rest of us little people.

Anonymous said...

Here in NY, ethics are determined by the "investments and/or sharing of the loot" made with judges and connected members of the NY cabal. Did you believe your NY lawyer works for you? Do you believe your NY lawyer would never make a deal with your opponent without your consent or knowledge?

Anonymous said...

I have to say I lost my Federal Ct. lawyer representing me as a pltf against OCA..an entity of NY State.... when she walked out the very last day of a deposition...to go work for NY State!
Is justice just a convoluted word used by the court system..when it really is just a fancy one for...Just us!

Anonymous said...

22 NYCRR 700.4

(f) Once a client has employed an attorney who has entered an appearance, the attorney shall not withdraw or abandon the case without:
(1) justifiable cause;
(2) reasonable notice to the client; and
(3) permission of the court.

Anonymous said...

i was told they can pull out anytime
they notify the court or ask the judge. the judge always lets them out, they can site attorney client privillage so they do not have to say anything. They have to sy
I was told that it is after they get paid they walk

they can do it anytime they want.

Anonymous said...

Richard Lerner of Nassau County has made a small fortune abandoning clients immediately after the last ckeck clears.
His daughter Kim has a special deal at arraignments where she picks up money as court appointed one shot attorney
Then she transfers the case to her father who rooks the client
I was told by a second attorney that the feds were gonna sweep in and clean it up but thats three years now !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Oh the technique that Richard Lerner of Old Country Road uses is
"FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE" when in fact the communication is fine,but hes just totally working behind your back !!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

As the pltf in the above mentioned case, this cut out lawyer told me one week in advance of her new job, and was assigned by Federal Ct originally...so Fed Ct was ok with her departure and wanted me to go "pro se" after 3 yrs of intense legal material, fighting attys from OCA and the atty general's office... now Gov.Cuomo.

My problem with her, besides her very close connection to the OCA administrator being deposed, which she never revealed in 3 yrs of representation until a few hrs before the depo, even though she sent the subpoena out herself several weeks earlier and accepted the case from Fed Ct yrs without mentioning that?...was that it took another yr plus, to find a new lawyer.
Now I have to continue to deal with months of OCA's constant stalling and half produced information, because the questions being asked were precluded by the last lawyer with no legal basis and strange nervousness..as she said... I DON'T want to go there...I am not going to ask those questions, they might get an OCA employee in trouble...I am just not doing that...all while I did not know she had a few other OCA connections, and no one cared that denying me that information violated legal and ethical conduct.

That is why cases last 6-10 yrs in Federal Ct when OCA is involved..because OCA is way up in there.... involved.

Anonymous said...

JUST STOP SPENDING AND PLAYING THE GAME
GO SUPPORT A LOCAL GUN SHOP
ALSO WWW.DILLON PRECISION.COM

GO CONSTITUTION !!!!!!!!!

victim said...

WHEN THE JDUGE TELLS THEM TO DUMP THE CLIENT BECAUSE IT'S TIME TO BEAT THEM UP TO SETTLE THE JUDGES WAY - ALL THE LAWYERS KNOW THE GAME ONLY THE VICTIMS DON'T

Anonymous said...

An attorney can dump his/her client after he/she gets the retainer and/or has taken the client to the cleaners and just a minute after the judge got paid off to fluck his client by the opposing party!!!

Anonymous said...

I had an attorney withdraw, when the judge asked in chambers is there previous legal malpractice here(aka are you covering for someone till the timeline runs out) the attorney told the Judge No.....we walk out of the courtroom and the attorney kindly tells us, he just lied to that judge.........

Anonymous said...

I've been through such Hell with these dam lawyers lying I can not even remember the name of that judge that was lied to and tried to get to the truth..... may have been Mintz!

Anonymous said...

Sometimes those judges have been being lied to,sometimes the judges are lying.... you never know who has been playing the game!

Anonymous said...

new rule: if a lawyer lies to a judge, the judge gets to cuff them or the target gets to shoot them.....simple!

Anonymous said...

new rule: if a lawyer lies to a judge, the judge gets to cuff them or the target gets to shoot them.....simple!

Anonymous said...

More reasons recording devices should be used in courts. Not just official recording, but allow litigant's to bring their own.

Isn't this a civil rights issue?

Anonymous said...

I was one of those idiots in Nassau County Surrogates Court.. A simple compel of accounting became a little skit practiced by all but the oppsing attorney who never showed up. No explained reason. She hired an associate that was totally ready to make a mokery of me and confuse the issue. The judge chuckles and says go to another room. Which I was not invited to. No accounting was presented and the original attorney from Garden City, heavily connected with the courts, charges me money for something she was supposed have done 4 years ago. I walked out so confused. Later I find my attorney was stringing me along and sided with the opposing attorney giving them all me information, and with holding Docs that were meant for me!! Sick I can't do anything.Then judge waited for months to make a judgement which was so clear."Opposing pary never filed any account at all. Waited till I was made to think if I signed a stupid Stipulation taking away all my constitutional rights away. My children would get there inheritance they would not show any damaging documentation and I would not be allowed to speak again. WRONG!! The Judge is now in Suffolk County Surrogates Court messing up other peoples lives. The Connected Attorneys are still well and stealing from other dead people's families and stll charging me for her work in 10 min. court OMG How much more discusting can you get.She's already a billionaire.. I am still wondering why she didnt show up.?

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See Video of Senator John L. Sampson's 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption

The first hearing, held in Albany on June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:


               Video of 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption
               The June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:
         
               CLICK HERE TO SEE Part 1
               CLICK HERE TO SEE Part 2