After accidentally forwarding potentially damaging information about his client to an AP reporter, Bob Hinton, Johnny Manziel’s Texas defense lawyer, has withdrawn from the case.
On May 20th, Manziel was involved in a hit-and-run crash. An AP reporter reached out to Hinton for comment on the incident. Apparently intending to text another lawyer involved in the case, Hinton sent a text to the reporter expressing doubt about Manziel’s ability to pass a drug screen: “Heaven help us if one of the conditions is to pee in a bottle.” Hinton also claimed he had been emailed a receipt purporting to show that Manziel spent more than $1,000 on drug paraphernalia less than a day after the crash (the validity of the receipt is not confirmed).
A week later, Hinton resigned from the defense team.
Interestingly, the Texas Rules of Professional Conduct are different from Ohio’s in a crucial aspect relevant to Hinton’s mishap. Under the Ohio Rules, “A lawyer shall not reveal information relating to the representation of a client,” and lawyers must “take reasonable efforts to prevent the inadvertent” disclosure of such information. Rule 1.6(a) and 1.6(c).
Under the Texas Rules, “a lawyer shall not knowingly reveal confidential information of a client . . . [or] use confidential information of a client to the disadvantage of the client” without the client’s consent. Texas Rule 1.05(b) (emphasis added).
So, although Ohio would evaluate the objective question of whether Hinton had taken reasonable steps to prevent the disclosures, the Texas inquiry focuses on whether the attorney “knowingly” disclosed the information.
Hinton has claimed that he was not disclosing the information knowingly.
The original AP story is here.
CBS story about Hinton’s resignation is here.
Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct are here.
Texas Rules are here.