San Diego DUI lawyers have competing obligations to their clients and to the courts that must be carefully balanced in order to provide effective representation while remaining within the confines of their professional obligations. An attorney’s fiduciary duty to a client recognizes that the attorney must protect the client’s confidences and advocate on behalf of the client at every peril to himself. The attorney’s duty of candor in a DUI case recognizes that the attorney has an obligation to be honest with the courts. The same situation could be argued with a San Diego personal injury attorney.
So what happens when being honest with the court is adverse to the interests of the client charged with a San Diego DUI? This can create a real dilemma for the attorney. The word “dilemma” is derived from the Greek prefix “di,” meaning two, and the suffix “lemma,” which can be loosely translated to mean an assumption or premise. The word dilemma was first used in the context of logic, showing that an argument must be flawed because it would lead to two false or inconsistent conclusions. Similarly, a choice between violating the duty of candor to the court or the duty of loyalty to the DUI client presents a choice between two unfavorable options.
The best response to a dilemma is usually to reconcile what at first blush appear to be inconsistent alternatives. The California Rules of Professional Conduct provide an example that is quite instructive in this regard. The duty of candor to the court would appear to prohibit a San Diego DUI defense attorney from allowing a client to testify falsely. A defendant, however, has a Fifth Amendment right to testify in his or her defense. So what is an attorney to do when the client’s exercise of his Fifth Amendment right is inconsistent with the attorney’s duty to be honest with the court? The rules of Professional Conduct provide that the attorney can allow the client to testify on his own behalf without specifically asking questions to the client. Thereby, the attorney is not committing a fraud on the court because he is not facilitating a client’s perjured testimony by asking the questions, yet the attorney is not restricting the client’s ability to exercise his Fifth Amendment right because the client is able to testify. A personal injury lawyer in San Diego can face similar circumstances in injury cases.