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. 
 Back to main menu

  Print This Leo
LEO NumTopicsSummary

17-Fraud on the Tribunal

31-Protecting and Disclosing Confidences and Secrets

56-Duty to Advise the Court

After the plaintiff and defendant settled a case based at least in part on the plaintiff's expert's deposition testimony, lawyers for both sides learned that the expert lied about professional qualifications "that formed the basis of his expert opinion." The Bar reiterates that false deposition testimony is fraud on a tribunal. However, not every misrepresentation made by a witness in a deposition is a "fraud upon the tribunal" -- disclosure is required only "to prevent a judgment from being corrupted" by the "unlawful conduct." If the false testimony about the plaintiff's expert's qualifications are "material to the opinion rendered by such expert" and therefore "corrupts the opinion," the fraud must be revealed to the tribunal "regardless of whether the case proceeds to trial or is settled." [Rule 3.3(a)(2) and Rule 4.2(b) require a lawyer to disclose facts if disclosure is necessary to avoid assisting a client's criminal or fraudulent acts.]

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn