Riehlmann was a defense
attorney who used to be a prosecutor. He met a friend (Deegan) who was still
a prosecutor at a bar. Deegan admitted that he had suppressed exculpatory
evidence in a criminal case he had prosecuted, although he didn't
specifically say which one (turned out it was a guy named Thompson).
Riehlmann urged Deegan to
admit what happened, but took no action himself to remedy the act.
Deegan died of cancer soon
Thompson was convicted and
sentenced to death.
Five years later, Thompson's
attorney found the suppressed lab report that proved Thompson didn't do
it. When Riehlmann found out, he wrote an affidavit stating that Deegan
told him he had intentionally suppressed the evidence.
Riehlmann later testified
that he knew he should have reported Deegan's misconduct, but didn't.
The Office of Disciplinary
Counsel charged Riehlmann with violating Rule 8.3(a) and Rule 8.4(c).
Rule 8.3(a) says that you have to report known instances
of another attorney's misconduct.
Rule 8.4(c) says that an attorney cannot engage in
conduct involving fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.
Rule 8.4(d) says that an attorney cannot engage in
conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.
Riehlmann argued that Rule
8.3(a) merely requires that an
attorney possessing unprivileged knowledge of a Rules violation shall
report such knowledge to an authority empowered to investigate the facts,
and he did eventually report his information to Thompson's attorney, who
reported it to the Court.
Rule 8.3(a) doesn't give a specific time limit for
The Hearing Committee
recommended that Riehlmann be found guilty of violating Rule 8.4(d), but not Rule 8.3(a).
The Hearing Committee found
that since Deegan never told Riehlmann the name of the defendant,
Riehlmann never had "knowledge" of the violation and therefore
didn't violate Rule 8.3(a).
However, the Hearing
Committee found that Riehlmann had a broader obligation to ensure that
justice is fairly administered, and by his complete inaction Riehlmann
violated Rule 8.4(d).
The Disciplinary Board
recommended Riehlmann be found guilty of violating both Rule 8.3(a) and Rule 8.4(d).
While the Hearing Board
found that you need clear and convincing evidence of knowledge to have a Rule 8.3(a)
violation, the Disciplinary Board thought that the standard should be
when a reasonable lawyer would have "a firm opinion that the conduct
in question more likely than not occurred."
Basically, you don't need
all the details before you are required to report, you just need to have
a sufficient knowledge that something happened.
The Disciplinary Board
found that while there is no specific time limit, reporting must occur
within a reasonable time under the circumstances.
The Appellate Court affirmed
the Disciplinary Board's recommendations.
The Appellate Court found
that, Rule 8.3(a) has three
The attorney must possess
unprivileged knowledge of a Rules violation.
Since the investigating
will be done by a tribunal later, the reporting attorney doesn't need
"proof" just a reasonable amount of evidence.
The attorney must report
The report must be timely.
The report must be made to
a tribunal or an authority empowered to investigate the violation.
In Louisiana, that's the
Office of Disciplinary Counsel, not,
the opposing side's attorney.
Riehlmann was disciplined
with a Public Reprimand.