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By: Charles M. Meadows, Jr.


An East Coast law firm you know and have worked with in the past refers you a client, who resides on the West Coast. W is a former citizen and resident of X country. X has most favored nation status. W was a former finance minister who administered foreign aid from the World Bank and the United States Foreign Assistance Program. W was dismissed by the Prime Minister. Subsequently, an investigation revealed several billion dollars in aid could not be accounted for as having been expended for the designated purposes.

By the time the investigators had made the determination that the unaccounted for funds had been misappropriated, W had emigrated to the United States, became a resident, and set up a private investment company engaging United States banks in multiple wire transfers of funds from several countries, including the Isle of Mann, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Turk Islands, Bahamas, and the Cayman Islands. The United States, in conjunction with X has commenced a criminal investigation of W. No formal charges have been made or filed, but the media publicity and government leaks indicate the potential charges are conspiracy, money laundering, bank fraud, engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specific unlawful activity, wire fraud, filing false United States Tax Returns and income tax evasion.

The East Coast Law Firm, in behalf of W, wires you the requested $100,000 retainer. The wired funds and associated information you receive indicate that the funds originated in the Cayman Islands, transferred to the Isle of Mann, rewired to Switzerland and wired to an East Coast bank which bank then wired the funds to your West Coast bank.

What course of action should you take?

If you accept the funds, do you become a potential defendant in a criminal prosecution? Under what circumstance, if any, can you represent this client and be paid all you fees and costs without risk of criminal prosecution?


Corporation ABC is served a grand jury subpoena for its records for 1996, 1997 and 1998. Your client, P. is the CEO, and has been designated custodian of records. ABC and P produce the records pursuant to the Grand Jury Subpoena. Thereafter, P, who had signed the corporate tax returns, becomes a target and is subsequently indicted and prosecuted for corporate income tax evasion and subscribing to false corporate tax returns. During preparation for trial, after you have entered your appearance and participated in pre-trail proceedings, P produces another set of records for 1996, 1997 and 1998, representing that these are the truce corporate records that he had withheld in responding to the Grand Jury subpoena. The Government plans to use the previously produced records in its case in chief.

What course of action should you take?

Does it matter ethically, that you did not represent P at the time he produced the records to the Grand Jury, as custodian of records?

What are the ethical consequences, if you did represent P at the time the records were produced to the Grand Jury?

Is withdrawal an option, if they jury trial is in progress?


During a jury trial for bank fraud and tax evasion, your client refers you to an individual, Z, who is a longtime business associate of your client. Your client claims Z was present at a critical meeting with financial institution representatives who allegedly stated the funds to be loaned were based on institution’s intent to extricate itself from an embarrassing situation, and the financial institution was not influenced in any way by your client’s representations. Further, if repayment was forgiven, the funds would not be taxable as such funds were considered a return of capital from you client’s investment in the bank. This exculpatory evidence is critical to the case. The jury trial is in progress.

You, however, learn from quizzing the proposed witness that the exculpatory evidence is newly created as a result of your client and the proposed witness longtime association. You refuse to call Z as a trial Witness. Your client insists, and states clearly if Z is not called, he will sue for professional malpractice.

What are your options?


A. The Court has prepared the jury instructions to be given to the jury, including an instruction which is very favorable to you position. The next morning prior to giving the charge to the jury, your associate informs you that the key case, which convinced the Court to give you this instruction, had just been reversed.

What, if any, are you obligations?

B. During the Court’s reading of the jury instructions, the Court misreads an unfavorable critical instruction. As a result of the misreading, the jury instruction turns out favorable to your client.

What should you do?

C. The Court thereafter omits, unintentionally, to read an unfavorable jury instruction, and the Government fails to object.

What is your ethical obligation?


At the federal building cafeteria you hear some Agents talking about the fact that they are going to execute an extremely large search the next day at a local business. You can’t help but overhear a brief description of the business and the owner, which identifies it in your mind as a long-time client of the Firm.

What can you do?


The Government’s key witness is on the stand and your investigator has determined that this key prosecution witness had previously in another district cut a deal with the prosecution with respect to preparing false tax returns for drug dealers. The Government failed to disclose this information. Your client, who was employed by the key witness, is charged with preparing false tax returns for otherwise honest individuals with the identical modus operandi of the key witness’ previous conduct. The court has ruled that cross-examination of the prior conduct of the key witness is too prejudicial to be examined upon. Further, if any questions on the subject are asked by you, you will be held in contempt and sanctions will be imposed.

However, if this information is elicited before the jury, your client has an excellent chance of being found not guilty.

What do you do?

Any ethical problems?


Your client has entered a plea of guilty as to conspiracy and bank fraud in exchange for a Rule 11 (e)(1)(C) plea agreement. During your collection of information for the probation officer, you suspect your client has hidden assets, revelation of which would affect the amount of restitution and the accuracy of the probation report.

What do you do?

Is withdrawal an option?