Everyone knows that lawyers can't lie to clients, courts, or third parties. But once you move beyond deliberate false statements, the scope of obligations to truth and integrity becomes less clear.
Criminal defenseattorneys have a duty to zealously represent their clients and protect their confidences. However, they also have a duty before the court not to present evidence that they know is false, fraudulent, or perjury, whether it comes from the defendant or from a witness that the lawyer knows intends to lie.
A lawyer who knowingly uses or gives perjury testimony risks serious consequences. Under the profession's code of ethics (the Canons of Professional Ethics of the American Bar Association), doing so subjects the lawyer to discipline and, quite possibly, disqualification. Lawyers' lies designed to sabotage valid election results are not protected by political discourse under the First Amendment. Ethical standards governing openness and frivolous litigation require sanctions, if not disqualification.
In addition, the duty of frankness must extend from the court to the public square when lawyers' lies threaten our democracy. Some states, such as Florida, in Formal Opinion 04‐1, require the lawyer to affirmatively disclose the client's intention to falsely testify in court at the time of withdrawal. Regardless of whether the lawyer represents a civil client or a criminal client, the lawyer's ethical obligations remain the same. The regulation of lawyer speech131 and, more generally, the regulation of lies132 raise important questions in terms of the coverage and scope of First Amendment protection.
A lawyer who cooperated in this way would be at risk of prosecution for bribery of perjury and disciplinary proceedings, including suspension or disqualification. In addition, unless it is clearly understood that the lawyer will act with a duty to disclose the existence of false evidence, the client may simply refuse the lawyer's advice to reveal the false evidence and insist that the lawyer remain silent. If the client insists on falsely testifying, the lawyer must refuse to offer the perjury testimony or must immediately request that he withdraw from the representation. The lawyer should further explain that he may be required to disclose the client's intentions to the court, if the court requires the lawyer to disclose a specific reason for the withdrawal.
The Court continued to note that “the right to a lawyer does not include the right to have an attorney who cooperates with 3 Hazard & Hodes, The Law of Lawyering, § 29, 19. As for the last two questions, if lawyers play a special role in telling the truth and what are the lies that fall outside the protection of the First Amendment in a world where sources cannot be trusted and lies abound, the legal profession distinguishes itself in an important way. According to the Preamble to the Model Rules, lawyers must constantly balance their duties as “a representative of clients, an officer of the legal system, and a public citizen who has a special responsibility for the quality of justice. Pro-Trump lawyer Tom McCarthy says “no reasonable person” would believe his election lies, Guardian (March) Ethics rules can and should be protective barriers to protect against future lies from lawyers who understand valid election results. Ellen Yaroshefsky, Regulation of Attorneys in Government Beyond Client Representation Role, 33 Notre Dame J.