Facing Justice: Ethical Choices in Representing Immigrant Clients
42 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009
Date Written: Spring 2007
This Article explores the particular challenges encountered by an attorney when his client disclosed damaging information over the course of his representation in immigration court which conflicted with information that was previously on the record. In so doing, this Article attempts to address the broader question of how to apply ethical norms in an increasingly draconian legal environment. Attorney S confronted an ethical crisis at the eleventh hour of his case. The crisis was the result of competing obligations Attorney S had towards his client ('Bertha Harwood') and the tribunal when his client provided him with certain information after her Individual Hearing that conflicted with information on the record. The Article examines the process by which Attorney S assessed his ethical obligations towards his client of zealous advocacy and confidentiality and his competing duty of candor toward the tribunal under both the Model Rules of Professional Conduct ('Model Rules') [FN12] and the EOIR Rules of Professional Conduct. [FN13] Specifically, the attorney in this case grappled with the question of whether he had to take remedial action under the rules, and if so, what remedial measures were appropriate. After much reflection, he chose a course of action that reframed certain questionable evidence but which favored the interests of his client over absolute candor towards the tribunal. Although he ultimately concluded that he was acting within the bounds of the relevant rules, Attorney S recognized that the choices he made tested the outer limits of his ethical obligation of candor toward the immigration court, and that a more cautious attorney might have made different ethical choices.
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