Saturday, June 2, 2007

Lawyer As Witness

The Rhode Island Supreme Court affirmed a criminal conviction in a case where the defense attorney identified himself as a potential witness during pretrial discovery. The lawyer proferred that he had had a telephone discussion with the victim, who made statements helpful to the defense. The lawyer offered to have other counsel examine him when he testified. The trial court held (erroneously) that an insufficient foundation had been laid for the lawyer's testimony. The court affirmed on other grounds, holding that Rule 3.7 precluded the lawyer from serving as both counsel and witness. The issue had surfaced in advance of trial and the lawyer chose to remain as counsel in the case. (Mike Frisch)

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