When Lawyers Advise Their Clients To Ignore The LawPosted: January 8, 2015
Hartford Courant reporter Matt Kauffman has an excellent piece entitled “A Transparency Advocate’s Legislative Wish List.” As the title suggest, the article contains a list of pro-open government measures that he hopes the General Assembly will consider and adopt this session. I support every item on the list.
But making that supportive statement is not the purpose of this post.
Matt’s piece begins with a deeply troubling description of the contents of an internal email he obtained. The author of the email is a lawyer for a public agency. The email states: “As we discussed we can always withhold a document even if there is no exception [under the Freedom of Information Act].” Yes, you read that right: a lawyer for a public agency advised his/her client that it could ignore the law.
WT__? (Pardon my French.) I have no idea who this lawyer is, but the kindest thing I can say is that he or she needs to review the Code of Professional Conduct–immediately. Perhaps a professional sanction is also in order. “Sure, go ahead, ignore the law.” That is outrageous advice for a lawyer to give to a client, particularly a public agency.
I am a proud member of the bar. This unnamed lawyer’s conduct is not representative of the way most lawyers conduct themselves. It should not go unredressed.