Catholic University Law Review


Vania M. Smith


The Model Rules of Professional Conduct (MRPC) governs the conduct of lawyers and provides the framework for how individual states and territories craft their rules. Rules regarding confidentiality have been central through the many iterations of these rules since their inception. Client confidentiality protections are critical to establishing and maintaining the public trust in the profession. Rule 1.6 of the MRPC gives a lawyer the opportunity to divulge a client confidence under varying circumstances, including the prevention of “substantial bodily harm”. To date, this has not resulted in a wide interpretation that this exception includes wrongful incarceration. This article seeks to advance the scholarship that has illuminated the physical and mental harm uniquely linked to wrongful incarceration and quantify this harm as substantial in accordance with the rule. The article further aims to parse the rule in an effort to prove that the language of Rule 1.6, in its current state, provides adequate protection for a lawyer breaching client confidentiality in an effort to prevent the substantial bodily harm of wrongful incarceration.