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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LEO NumTopicsSummary

31-Protecting and Disclosing Confidences and Secrets

48-Criminal Defense Lawyers

56-Duty to Advise the Court

A criminal defense lawyer representing a client found guilty of a felony is under no duty to reveal that the sentencing document later signed by the judge erroneously stated that the defendant was found guilty only of a misdemeanor (assuming that the lawyer did not endorse the document or otherwise participate in drafting it). In fact, the lawyer was ethically obligated not to reveal the error because the revelation would damage the client. [Rule 3.3(a)(2) and Rule 4.1(b) might affect this analysis, because it prohibits a lawyer from knowingly failing to disclose a fact "when disclosure is necessary to avoid assisting a criminal or fraudulent act by a client."]

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn