Bar Counsel Notes: Candor Toward a Tribunal

Attorney confidentially learns from information provided by a recently acquired client that he had earlier (in a pro se capacity) provided false information regarding his biological child to an immigration tribunal. What is the attorney required to do under the new Maine Rules of Professional Conduct?

Rules 1.6 and 3.3 are each relevant. First, Rule 3.3(a)(3) requires the attorney to disclose the false information to the tribunal even when the client's falsity occurred before the attorney/client relationship had commenced. In addition, Rule 3.3(c) specifically requires that disclosure to be made notwithstanding the confidentiality of the client's revelation to the attorney. Finally, the attorney needs to inform the client of that required impending disclosure and the client's need to correct the falsity. See M. R. Prof. Conduct 1.6(c).

*Disclaimer: The Informal Ethics Advisory Notes from Bar Counsel are intended as outreach by the office of Bar Counsel for the use and benefit of the Maine bar. These scenarios are drawn from actual telephone calls received by the attorneys in the office of Bar Counsel in the course of providing informal advice on the Code of Professional Responsibility, known as Bar Counsel's "Ethics Hotline." The particular advice in each case is limited with reference to the particular factual situation related by the inquiring attorney who must be inquiring about his or her own conduct or the conduct of a member of his or her firm. We do not provide any advice to one attorney about the conduct of another attorney unless they are members of the same law firm. In the telephone opinions, we usually explore and discuss additional factual variables. However, I have attempted to pare down these factual scenarios to make the email newsletter more readable and useful in a general sense. Obviously, that creates the risk that slight variations on the facts, to a learned reader, may give rise to a different analysis and conclusion.