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In re Riehlmann - 04-0680 ( La. 01/19/05), 891 So. 2d 1239

Rule:

For purposes of La. St. Bar art. XVI, R. 8.3(a), once a lawyer decides that a reportable offense of misconduct has likely occurred, reporting should be made promptly. The need for prompt reporting flows from the need to safeguard the public and the profession against future wrongdoing by the offending lawyer. That purpose is not served unless Rule 8.3(a) is read to require timely reporting under the circumstances presented.

Facts:

Petitioner filed formal charges against respondent attorney, alleging that his failure to report his unprivileged knowledge of the deceased lawyer's prosecutorial misconduct violated the Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct. The deceased lawyer confided to the attorney that he had suppressed exculpatory blood evidence in a criminal case he prosecuted while at the district attorney's office. The attorney did not report the deceased lawyer's disclosure to anyone at the time it was made. The respondent was formally charged for his failure to report his unprivileged knowledge of the deceased lawyer’s prosecutorial misconduct.

Issue:

Did the respondent attorney violate the Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct when he failed to report a deceased lawyer’s prosecutorial misconduct?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The court found that the attorney knew that the deceased lawyer had done something wrong and that the attorney failed to promptly report the deceased lawyer's misconduct to the disciplinary authorities. Additionally, there was no reason for the attorney to have waited five years to tell the ODC about what the deceased lawyer had done. The respondent attorney violated the general duty imposed upon attorneys to maintain and preserve the integrity of the bar and he should be publicly reprimanded.

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