NUMBER 269 1929

Question. in the opinion of the Committee, should a lawyer merely withdraw from a pending suit charging conversion of money, instituted by him in behalf of a client, or merely refuse to proceed further with it, when he is confronted with incontrovertible documentary evidence signed by his client that the alleged cause of action does not exist, and in all probability is a blackmail suit, and that its further prosecution would be vexatious and unjust, and designed to keep a cloud of suspicion over the adverse party pending trial, and that by requiring the adverse party to proceed to trial, the inconvenience or possible undesirable publicity may cause a settlement? Has the attorney any active duty to help undo the wrong?


Answer. In the opinion of the Committee, since the question assumes that the evidence is incontrovertible and that the purpose is as stated, the public duty of the lawyer, convinced that his client designs to prevent the object of the administration of justice through the Court, is such that, he should first advise and endeavor to persuade the client to abandon his suit He should, of course, not participate in the further prosecution of the action and should so inform his client, and if the client refuses to follow his advice, he should bring the matter to the attention of the Court on notice to his client for such disposition as it may direct. The Court may protect the rights of the client (if any) against the disclosure of privileged communications or otherwise, and in his preliminary application to the Court there should be no disclosure of such privileged communications.