Evans v. Cameron

In Evans v. Cameron, 121 Wis. 2d 421, 360 N.W.2d 25 (1985), the client sued her attorney for damages resulting from her false testimony in a bankruptcy proceeding. She claimed her attorney advised her to lie in order to hide $ 10,000 in cash from creditors. In response to the argument that a client has the right to rely on the advice of counsel, the court said: There may be circumstances in which the advice given by an attorney is so complex that the client would be unaware of the wrongfulness involved in following that advice. In such circumstances, more weight may be given to the influence an attorney will have over the client and the amount of reliance which the client can justifiably place in the attorney. The wrongfulness of lying while under oath, however, is apparent. Absent some allegation of special circumstances constituting an exception to the rule of in pari delicto independent of the attorney-client relationship, the client's deliberate act of lying under oath places that client in pari delicto with the attorney who advised that client to lie. (Id. at 428.) The client then argued that public policy may intervene to allow the client to recover against the attorney. The court responded: "Although the public interest is served by discouraging attorney misconduct, it would be inappropriate to promote that interest by removing the damage to those who deliberately and willfully lie under oath in bankruptcy proceedings. A Court should not encourage others to commit illegal acts upon their lawyer's advice by allowing the perpetrators to believe that a suit against the attorney will allow them to obtain relief from any damage they might suffer if caught. The attorney's misconduct of advising clients to perform illegal acts should be discouraged by the threat of attorney disciplinary action."