In Three Days of the Condor, Robert Redford plays a CIA researcher who finds himself “in danger and in love.” ABA Model Rule 3.3 — Candor Toward the Tribunal — probably won’t help your love life, but there is plenty of danger involved; if you fail to comply, that is.
Rule 3.3 prohibits not only the making of false statements and submission of false evidence, but also omissions, like failing to correct a prior false statement or disclose adverse authority. Rule 3.3 is regarded as so important that, by its terms, it even trumps a lawyer’s duty of confidentiality.
Judges certainly regard it as important. Recently, a federal judge sua sponte ordered a group of lawyers from a firm to show cause why they should not be sanctioned for failing to comply with Rule 3.3. What did they do wrong? They failed to cite adverse relevant authority from a controlling Circuit Court in a motion to dismiss. Notably, the order was directed to all lawyers whose names appeared on the papers — two partners and an associate. Although the parties have since settled the case (with the law firm chipping in), the lawyers still have to answer to the judge.
I won’t blow the ending of Condor, but I can certainly tell you what will happen if you blow your duty of Candor. To learn more about both Condor and Candor, click on the attached.