These summaries were prepared by McGuireWoods LLP lawyer Thomas E. Spahn. They are based on the letter opinions issued by the Virginia State Bar. Any editorial comments reflect Mr. Spahn's current personal views, and not the opinions of the Virginia State Bar, McGuireWoods or its clients. 
 
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  Topic: 79 - Communicating with a Governmental Adversary
LEO NumTopicsSummaryDate
1504

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28-Law Firm Staff

79-Communicating with a Governmental Adversary

A lawyer and the lawyer's employee may seek information under the Freedom of Information Act from the state, even if the lawyer is representing a client adverse to the state. 12/14/1992
0529

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79-Communicating with a Governmental Adversary

A lawyer may directly contact a member of a county Board of Supervisors even if the lawyer knows that the county attorney represents the Board, because limitations on contacting an adversary do not restrict petitions to a legislative body.9/13/1983
1537

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79-Communicating with a Governmental Adversary

A lawyer representing a child and parents adverse to a school board may directly contact school board employees who are not in a position to bind the school board. "The rule prohibiting an attorney's communication with adverse parties should be narrowly construed in the context of litigation with the government in order to permit reasonable access to witnesses for the purpose of uncovering evidence, particularly where no formal discovery processes exist." 6/22/1993
0777

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79-Communicating with a Governmental Adversary

A lawyer suing a county board may not contact a board member, but may contact county employees if they are "not charged with the responsibility of executing board policy" (citing Upjohn). 4/22/1986
ABA-408

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79-Communicating with a Governmental Adversary

Although generally a lawyer may not have ex parte contacts with a represented government entity, the constitutional right to petition allows a lawyer to establish such ex parte contacts if the official has authority to "take or recommend action on the controversy, and the sole purpose of the communication . . . is to address a policy issue, including settling the controversy." Moreover, the lawyer must give advance notice of such contact to the government lawyer and provide copies of any written materials to be presented to the government official. 8/2/1997
0964

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9-Government Lawyer Conflicts

79-Communicating with a Governmental Adversary

An Assistant Attorney General employed in the support division represents the state (not any custodial or non-custodial parents), and must disclose this fact to any parents with whom the Assistant Attorney General works. The Attorney General represents Virginia departments as units, and the representation includes the department's employees when acting within the scope of their employment. Plaintiff's lawyers (including legal aid lawyers) must comply with the rules governing contacts with adversaries when litigating with the government. 3/1/1988

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn