Law & Order, "Open Season" (Season 13, Ep. 7) (11/20/02): Improper assistance to client, permissive withdrawal

Contributed by Mary Rynaski

Danielle Melnick (Tovah Feldshuh) is being arraigned on charges of conspiracy and manslaughter. Melnick assisted her client, Julian Preuss, in violating a judicial order, a special administrative measure prohibiting the client from any contact with anyone other than his attorney.

At the outset of the arraignment the judge takes Melnick off the original case. Melnick attempts to argue, since there was no motion before the court to disqualify her from representing Preuss. However, the judge cited a case in a different district, stating "you can't represent your client and conspire with him at the same time." 

Melnick should not have done whatever her client asked her to do, if it required violating the rules or the law.  If the client requests this assistance, the lawyer, under MR 1.4(a)(5), should explain why it cannot be provided.  If the client persisted, she should have withdrawn,as MR 1.16(a)(1) explains.

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