Don’t Play This Misidentification Game During Trial


The Colorado Supreme Court suspended a criminal defense lawyer for a “fraud upon the court” committed by arranging what she hoped would be a witness misidentification of her client during a theft trial. See People v. Lee, 13PDJ039 (Oct. 31, 2013). The lawyer sat a friend next to her at counsel table while she placed her client in the back of the courtroom posing as a spectator. During opening statement, the lawyer pointed to her friend and proclaimed “my client is innocent.” It didn’t work. The theft victim picked out the lawyer’s client in the gallery. The judge thereafter held the lawyer in contempt and reported her to disciplinary authorities for violating numerous rules of professional conduct.

The same result would occur in Louisiana. Louisiana Rule 1.2(a) prohibits a lawyer from counseling a client to engage in conduct that the lawyer knows is fraudulent. Louisiana Rule 3.3 prohibits a lawyer from making a false statement to a tribunal and from offering false evidence. Finally, Louisiana Rule 8.4 prohibits a lawyer from engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice. Winning is good. Keeping your license to practice? Priceless.

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