July, 1970

CONFIDENCE OF A CLIENT When an attorney is made aware in confidence that a client has in the past committed a crime, the attorney is prohibited front disclosing any of the information revealed to him by his client.

Canon 34.


An attorney accepts a television set as part payment on a fee owed by a client. Several days after the television set is delivered, the client comes back to the attorney's office for a conference. During the course of the conference, the client tells the attorney in confidence that he was involved in a burglary, at which time the television set was stolen. Thereafter the attorney informs the police department of his conference with the client and asks the police department to pick up the television set. The police officers ask the attorney to give them the name of the client. Should the attorney reveal the name of his client to the police officers?


Canon 34 provides that the attorney has a duty not to disclose confidential information obtained in confidence from his client. This duty to preserve the client's confidence outlasts the employment. This duty extends to a crime which has been committed, but does not extend to a crime or fraud which the client announces that he intends to commit in the future. See Opinion 204. There are many exceptions to the rule which prohibits disclosure of a crime which a client has committed in the past. See Drinker, Legal Ethics. 131-39 (1953). However, the facts of this inquiry do not bring it within one of the exceptions. Thus, the attorney is prohibited under Texas Canon 34 from disclosing to the police officers the name of his client or any information pertaining to the commission of the crime which was related to him in confidence by his client. See Opinion 193.