POLICE; OPPOSING PARTY IN  DIVORCE
                              ADMITS THAT SIGNATURE ON PLEADING IS
                              NOT HIS OWN 

You have presented a hypothetical situation in which the attorney
representing Wife in a domestic relations cause received a motion
from Husband seeking temporary visitation.  Husband has admitted
that he did not sign his name to the motion, and attorney has
reason to believe that the forgery was committed by an employee in
the clerk's office.  The Committee assumes that Husband did not
authorize anyone to sign the motion on his behalf.

Under the facts you have presented, you have asked the committee to
opine as to the propriety of attorney's reporting this occurrence
to the court and/or the police or others. 

The appropriate and controlling disciplinary rule relative to your
inquiry is DR 7-102(B)(1) which states that a lawyer who receives
information clearly establishing that a person other than his
client has perpetrated a fraud on the tribunal shall promptly
reveal the fraud to the tribunal (emphasis added).

The committee has previously opined that a plaintiff's use of a
false name and social security number at both a deposition and
during appearances in traffic court constituted fraud upon the
court which the attorney for the opposing side was ethically bound
to report to the tribunal.  Legal Ethics Opinion 1490.  The
Committee has also opined that the determinative factor is whether
disclosure is necessary to prevent the court's judgment from being
corrupted by a party's unlawful conduct.  Legal Ethics Opinion No.

In the facts you present, whether the information available clearly
establishes that the employee forged Husband's signature requires
a subjective determination on your part.  The Committee observes,
however, that at a minimum the "clearly establishes" standard
imparts a good faith belief based upon a substantial degree of
certainty and not merely upon suspicion or rumor.  See Legal Ethics
Opinion #1528.  Thus the Committee cannot opine as to whether you
have information clearly establishing that the employee perpetrated
a fraud on the court which you are obligated to report.

Nevertheless, given the facts you present, it is clear at a minimum
that someone forged husband's signature and that such person may
have perpetrated a fraud on the court which you are obligated to
report, under the mandate of DR 7-102(B)(1).  

The Committee also believes that there is no rule in the Code of
Professional Responsibility which requires an attorney to report to
the police the conduct you have described.  Given that you do have
information which clearly establishes that someone forged the
husband's signature to the motion, your ethical obligations would
be discharged by reporting the matter to the court.

[DR 7-102(B); LEOs 1451, 1490, 1428]

Committee Opinion
April 1, 1996