VSB Standing Committee On Legal Ethics Seeking Public Comment On Legal Ethics Opinion 1880

Pursuant to Part 6, § IV, ¶ 10-2(C) of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia, the Virginia State Bar’s Standing Committee on Legal Ethics (“Committee”) is seeking public comment on proposed advisory Legal Ethics Opinion 1880, Obligations of a Court-Appointed Attorney to Advise His Indigent Client of the Right of Appeal Following Conviction Upon a Guilty Plea; Duty of Court-Appointed Attorney to Follow the Indigent Client’s Instruction to Appeal Following a Guilty Plea When the Attorney Believes the Appeal Would  Be Frivolous.

     The proposed opinion poses the following three questions:

  1. Is it ethically permissible for a court-appointed attorney to file an appeal following his client’s guilty plea if the attorney believes such appeal to be frivolous?


  1. Is a court-appointed attorney ethically obligated to advise his indigent client that the client has a right of appeal to a conviction or sentence based on a plea of guilty when the attorney believes that no grounds for appeal exist?


  1. Must a court-appointed attorney petition for an appeal if his client so requests when the attorney believes such appeal would be frivolous? 

The proposed opinion answers these questions in the affirmative, given the required protection of an indigent client’s constitutional rights in criminal cases as discussed in Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738 (1967), and the application of Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3(a), 1.4(b), and 3.1.

view proposed LEO 1880 (PDF file)

Inspection and Comment

The proposed advisory opinion may be inspected at the office of the Virginia State Bar, 1111 East Main Street, Suite 700, Richmond, Virginia 23219-3565, between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.  Copies of the proposed advisory opinion can be obtained from the offices of the Virginia State Bar by contacting the Office of Ethics Counsel at 804-775-0557, or can be found at the Virginia State Bar’s website at http://www.vsb.org.

Not later than March 3, 2015, any individual, business, or other entity may file or submit to Karen A. Gould, at publiccomment@vsb.org, the Executive Director of the Virginia State Bar, a written comment in support of or in opposition to the proposed advisory opinion.

Updated: Jan 29, 2015