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Opinion 690

Question Presented

Does a lawyer who represents a defendant in a criminal matter violate the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct if, after receiving tangible evidence from the lawyer’s client, the lawyer does not reveal the existence of the evidence until trial and refuses to allow the prosecuting attorney to inspect the evidence until the court orders the lawyer to do so?

A lawyer represents a client who is in jail awaiting trial in a felony domestic violence case.  While in jail, the defendant receives several letters from a victim in the case that contain relevant information.  The defendant gives those letters to the lawyer, who takes the letters to his office for safekeeping.  The lawyer does not reveal the existence of the letters until trial.  The prosecuting attorney informally asks to inspect the letters, but the lawyer refuses.  The lawyer continues to refuse to allow inspection of the letters until ordered to do so by the court after a hearing.

Bluebook Citation

Tex. Comm. On Professional Ethics, Op. 690 (2020)