Providing Confession of Judgment to Unrepresented Adverse Party
Opinion rules that an attorney may provide a confession of judgment to an unrepresented adverse party for execution by that party so long as the lawyer does not undertake to advise the adverse party or feign disinterestedness.
Attorney represents the custodial parent of minor children. The noncustodial spouse has agreed to pay child support in an amount equal to that determined by application of the child support guidelines promulgated pursuant to G.S. §50-13.4(c). Attorney and custodial parent wish to have the child support payable through the clerk of superior court. May the attorney mail a confession of judgment to the unrepresented opposing party for execution and subsequent submission to the clerk of Superior Court for endorsement and entry of judgment?
Yes. A lawyer may communicate directly with an adverse party who is not known to be represented by counsel in regard to the matter at issue. Rule 7.4(a). In order to accomplish her client's purposes, the attorney may draft a confession of judgment for execution by the adverse party and solicit its execution by the adverse party so long as the attorney does not undertake to advise the unrepresented party concerning the meaning or significance of the document or to state or imply that she is disinterested. Rule 7.4(b) and (c). The attorney should advise the adverse party that she represents her client, that she cannot give legal advice to the adverse party, and that the adverse party should seek the advice of another attorney concerning whether he should sign the confession of judgment. Although previous ethics opinions, CPRs 121 and 296, have ruled that it is unethical for a lawyer to furnish consent judgments to unrepresented adverse parties for their consideration and execution, there appears to be no basis for such a prohibition when the lawyer is not furnishing a document which appears to represent the position of the adverse party such as an answer, and the lawyer furnishing a confession of judgment or consent judgment does not undertake to advise the adverse party or feign disinterestedness. CPRs 121 and 296 are therefore overruled to the extent they are in conflict with this opinion.