Is it wrong for the defendant’s attorney/friend to pass a note from the gallery to the defendant in a small claims hearing?

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Is it wrong for the defendant’s attorney/friend to pass a note from the gallery to the defendant in a small claims hearing?

I was the plaintiff in a small claims case in CA earlier this month. As I was
speaking to the judge, the attorney, who had also written a letter on the
defendant’s behalf near the beginning of the dispute, thereby having a stake in
the outcome of the case, sent a note to the defendant’s table by way of her
witness, who walked the note through the double swinging doors to take it to the
defendant.

Is there anything wrong with this? Does it violate attorney ethics? What can I do
about this if it is a violation?

Asked on June 29, 2017 under Business Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

It is legal: anyone may make an observation or suggestion to someone in a trial (so long as the judge doesn't bar or prevent it; the judge has the authority to control his/her courtroom and also the conduct of the trial). It is also not unethical, since this person, if he was the defendant's friend, had no legal or ethical obligation to not help his friend; only if the attorney had represented you and was using information from nis representation or compromising his representation of you would this be unethical. But absent some tie or connection to you, he could help his friend.


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