1991

  • Opinion No. 91-7
    Summary: An assistant district attorney who had been assigned to prosecute a husband for committing battery on his wife and had done some work on the case, left to enter private practice before appearing in court on the matter. Nevertheless, DR 9-101(B) prohibits the lawyer, after entering private practice, from representing the wife in a civil action against the husband for the battery.
  • Opinion No. 91-6
    Summary: An attorney appointed to represent a criminal defendant found by the court to be indigent, who learns from the client that the client received funds subsequent to filing a statement of indigency, must call upon the client to rectify the fraud of obtaining free legal services to which he is not entitled. If the client refuses to do so, the lawyer must either reveal the fraud to the court, or notify the court that he or she is willing to continue to represent the client without compensation from public or restricted funds. Opinion 76-17, which reached the conclusion set forth in the preceding two sentences under a former version of DR 7-102(B)(1), is reaffirmed.
  • Opinion No. 91-5
    Summary: Once an attorney hired by an insurance carrier to represent an insured makes a good faith determination that there is a potential for an award in excess of the policy limits, the attorney may not provide the carrier with the attorney's opinion as to the merits of the claim or its value for settlement purposes if the attorney knows or has strong reason to believe that the case can be settled within the policy limits. The insurer must retain separate counsel for such purposes.
  • Opinion No. 91-4
    Summary: An attorney who learns that his client has told material lies to a probation officer in connection with pre-sentence investigation is required by the Disciplinary Rules to disclose that fraud to the court if the client's effort to obtain a lighter sentence by lying constitutes a crime. If the lawyer believes that there is a substantial claim that the client's privilege against self-incrimination prevents disclosure, the lawyer must obtain a ruling on that issue before making disclosure. If the client's fraudulent statements do not constitute a crime, the lawyer must seek to withdraw from representation.
  • Opinion No. 91-3
    Summary: Although DR 7-109(C) prohibits a lawyer from paying compensation to ordinary witnesses for attending at, and preparing for, trial beyond the witness' expenses and any financial loss, a lawyer may pay a former employee of a client required to spend a fair amount of his time in trial preparation for that time and attendance irrespective of the witness' financial loss.
  • Opinion No. 91-2
    Summary: Law firms may engage in programs in which firm employees handle cases on a volunteer basis for a district attorney's office at the same time that the firm handles criminal defense work in the same county so long as certain safeguards are observed. The firm may not, however, represent a defendant in the same case that is being prosecuted by a firm employee working in such a program.
  • Opinion No. 91-1
    Summary: It is unethical for an attorney who represents a client in a divorce proceeding to receive, as a retainer fee from the client, a promissory note secured by a mortgage on the marital home, where the home will foreseeably be part of the subject matter of the divorce. However, after the divorce proceeding has been concluded, the attorney may receive a note and/or mortgage from the client on any real estate awarded to the client in the divorce proceeding, subject to certain general ethical considerations. In addition, subject to these same general ethical considerations, after a divorce proceeding is over, an attorney may take as payment for the attorney's fees and expenses incurred in the divorce proceeding an assignment of a promissory note given by the adverse spouse to his divorce client.
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