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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48-Criminal Defense Lawyers

Although a criminal defense lawyer can follow a competent criminal client's desire not to fight the death penalty, a criminal defense lawyer representing a client who has attempted suicide and who has stated a desire to "commit suicide by state" by foregoing a defense (and, among other things, seeking a jury trial because a jury is more likely to sentence him to death) must treat the client as an "impaired" client under Rule 1.14. A forensic psychologist's conclusion that the client is competent to stand trial does not necessarily establish that the client is competent for Rule 1.14 purposes. The lawyer might engage in such steps as "seeking further evaluation of the client's mental state, seeking an appointment of a guardian, and/or going forth with a defense in spite of the client's directive to the contrary."

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn