The VI Bar Herald
||The Source for VI Legal Info
||September 19th, 2019
Current Rules Requiring Truthfulness and Honesty in Lawyering
ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct
A lawyer shall not counsel a client to engage, or assist a client, in conduct that the lawyer knows is criminal or fraudulent, but a lawyer may discuss the legal consequences of any proposed course of conduct with a client and may counsel or assist a client to make a good faith effort to determine the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law.
(a) A lawyer shall not knowingly:
(1) Make a false statement of material fact or law to a tribunal;
(2) Fail to disclose a material fact to a tribunal when disclosure is necessary to avoid assisting a criminal or fraudulent act by the client;
(3) Fail to disclose to the tribunal legal authority in the controlling jurisdiction known to the lawyer to be directly adverse to the position of the client and not disclosed by opposing counsel; or
(4) Offer evidence that the lawyer knows to be false. If a lawyer has offered material evidence and comes to know of its falsity, the lawyer shall take reasonable remedial measures.
A lawyer shall not:
(a) Unlawfully obstruct another party's access to evidence or unlawfully alter, destroy or conceal a document or other material having potential evidentiary value. A lawyer shall not counsel or assist another person to do any such act;
(b) Falsify evidence, counsel or assist a witness to testify falsely, or offer an inducement to a witness that is prohibited by law;
(c) Knowingly disobey an obligation under the rules of a tribunal except for an open refusal based on an assertion that no valid obligation exists;
(d) In pretrial procedure, make a frivolous discovery request or fail to make a reasonably diligent effort to comply with a legally proper discovery request by an opposing party;
(e) In trial, allude to any matter that the lawyer does not reasonably believe is relevant or that will not be supported by admissible evidence, assert personal knowledge of facts in issue except when testifying as a witness, or state a personal opinion as to the justness of a cause, the credibility of a witness, the culpability of a civil litigant or the guilt or innocence of an accused; or
(f) Request a person other than a client to refrain from voluntarily giving relevant information to another party unless:
(1) The person is a relative or an employee or other agent of a client; and
(2) The lawyer reasonably believes that the person's interests will not be adversely affected by refraining from giving such information.
In the course of representing a client a lawyer shall not knowingly:
(a) Make a false statement of material fact or law to a third person; or
(b) Fail to disclose a material fact to a third person when disclosure is necessary to avoid assisting a criminal or fraudulent act by a client, unless disclosure is prohibited by Rule 1.6.
In representing a client, a lawyer shall not use means that have no substantial purpose other than to embarrass, delay, or burden a third person, or use methods of obtaining evidence that violate the legal rights of such a person.
[No false statements on bar applications or in connection with a disciplinary proceeding. Voluntary disclosure required in many situations, even if not asked.]
[No false or reckless attacks on judges.]
It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to:
(a) Violate or attempt to violate the roles of professional conduct, knowingly assist or induce another to do so, or do so through the acts of another;
(b) Commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects;
(c) Engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation;
(d) Engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice;
(e) State or imply an ability to influence improperly a government agency or official; or
(f) Knowingly assist a judge or judicial officer in conduct that is a violation of applicable rules of judicial conduct or other law.
SEE ALSO THE FOLLOWING RULES
(a) A lawyer shall keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and promptly comply with reasonable requests for information.
(b) A lawyer shall explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions regarding the representation.
A lawyer shall not bring or defend a proceeding, or assert or controvert an issue therein, unless there is a basis for doing so that is not frivolous, which includes a good faith argument for an extension, modification or reversal of existing law. A lawyer for the defendant in a criminal proceeding, or the respondent in a proceeding that could result in incarceration, may nevertheless so defend the proceeding as to require that every element of the case be established.
A lawyer shall not:
(a) Seek to influence a judge, juror, prospective juror or other official by means prohibited by law;
(b) Communicate ex parte with such a person except as permitted by law; or
(c) Engage in conduct intended to disrupt a tribunal
[Mandatory reporting of certain serious misconduct of another lawyer or a judge. It is misconduct not to report, when a lawyer has such knowledge.]
Board of Governors Adopts Grievance Form|
The Board of Governors of the Virgin Islands has adopted a new Grievance Form to expedite the filing of complaints against attorneys. Tom Bolt, President of the Bar Association, commended the members of the Bar's Professional Ethics and Grievance Committee for their work in bringing this project to fruition.
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