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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27-Litigation Tactics (Including Misrepresentations, Tape Recordings)


48-Criminal Defense Lawyers

51-Government Attorneys

A Commonwealth's Attorney cannot offer a plea agreement to a criminal defendant based on the testimony of a witness whose identity the Commonwealth Attorney insists that the defense lawyer refrain from sharing with the criminal client (because the ethics rules prohibit lawyers from requesting anyone other than clients and certain specified others to refrain from voluntarily providing information to an adversary). On the other hand, the Commonwealth's Attorney may offer a plea agreement based on a "nameless confidential informant." In discussing the defense lawyer's duties, the Bar explains that the defendant's lawyer might be able to withhold the confidential witness's identity and involvement if the defense lawyer "believes that the defendant has enough relevant information about the pertinent facts to make an informed decision" about accepting the plea agreement.

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn