Matter of Vinluan v, Doyle
January 22, 2009
Before: Santucci, J.P.; Angiolillo; Eng; Chambers, JJ.
Read the Full-Text Opinion
PETITIONER LAWYER represented nurses from the Philippines who left their posts in protest over job conditions. A district attorney accused the nurses of abandoning their patients. The nurses, and lawyer, were indicted on charges including endangering the welfare of a child and of a physically disabled person. The appeals court halted prosecution of petitioner and his clients. It noted that the state’s Education Department cleared the nurses of professional misconduct. The lawyer could not be prosecuted for his “objectively reasonable” advice to his clients. The panel said that “we cannot conclude that an attorney who advises a client to take an action that he or she, in good faith, believes to be legal, loses the protection of the First Amendment if his or her advice is later determined to be incorrect.” It also said “it would eviscerate the right to give and receive legal counsel [as] to potential criminal liability if an attorney could be charged with conspiracy and solicitation whenever a District Attorney disagreed with that advice.”