LEO: Court-Appointed Attorney - Disclosure  LE Op. 965


Court-Appointed Attorney - Disclosure - Terminating

Representation: Court-Appointed Attorney Disclosing

Client's Intention to Commit a Crime.


August 24, 1987


A court-appointed attorney is representing a client in a habeas corpus

proceeding who informs the attorney of his intention to sue former

counsel. In addition, he has offered to pay the current attorney a fee in

addition to the fee he will receive as a court-appointed attorney, and he

has expressed a lack of confidence in the current attorney's ability to

represent him and is making unreasonable demands upon him.


Disciplinary Rule 4-101(D)(1) [ DR:4-101] permits an attorney to reveal

the client's criminal intention unless thereupon abandoned after the

attorney has advised his client of the legal consequences of his action

and urged the client not to commit the crime. The committee believes,

however, that the current attorney may avoid any criminal acts by advising

his client of the implications of his statements and actions, and by the

attorney not accepting any additional money.


Disciplinary Rule 2-108(C) [ DR:2-108] provides that in any court

proceeding, counsel-of-record shall not withdraw except by leave of court

after notice to the client as to the time and place of the motion of leave

to withdraw. In any other matter, a lawyer shall continue representation,

notwithstanding good cause for terminating the representation when ordered

to do so by a tribunal. Furthermore, EC:2-31 and EC:2-34 provide in part

that a court-appointed attorney shall not seek to be excused from the

representation of a person unable to obtain counsel except for compelling

reasons, which do not include repugnance of the subject matter of the

proceeding, the identity or position of the person involved in the case,

the belief of the lawyer that the defendant in a criminal proceeding is

guilty, or the belief of the lawyer regarding the merits of the civil

case. The committee cannot make recommendations on whether compelling

reasons exist for the court to allow the attorney to withdraw. [ DR:4-

101(D)(1); DR:2-108(C); EC:2-31; EC:2-34]


Committee Opinion August 24, 1987