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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4-Witness-Advocate Rule

31-Protecting and Disclosing Confidences and Secrets

35-Threatening Criminal and Disciplinary Action

56-Duty to Advise the Court

A defense lawyer learning that the plaintiff tried to bribe a witness must advise the tribunal of the potential crime and may also advise the Commonwealth's Attorney (the Bar did not decide if failure to report the crime would amount to misprision of a felony under Va. Code § 18.2-461). The lawyer may continue to represent the defendant in the civil case even though the lawyer might be a witness in the resulting criminal matter. Reporting the bribery would itself be unethical only if the lawyer was acting "solely for the purpose of obtaining an advantage in a civil matter."

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn