About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Email Exchange with Robert Dugoni on Legal Ethics

In my last post I put up a review of Murder One by Robert Dugoni. There was a legal ethical issue that troubled me. The following exchange of emails with the author delves into the issue. Potential readers of the book are warned that the remainder of this post does contain spoilers. Dugoni graciously advised that I could post the following portion of his email with spoilers.


In a week I am going to be posting a review of Murder One on my blog, Mysteries and More from Saskatchewan, which is located at mysteriesandmore@blogspot.com.

I found it a very good legal thriller.

I am a lawyer whose practice includes civil and criminal litigation.

There was an ethical issue that troubled me in the book.

In Saskatchewan David Sloane would have been in deep trouble with the Law Society had he taken on the representation of a client with whom he was having a sexual relationship.

To represent her on a criminal charge while publicly having an affair just could not happen here.

Can it be in Washington that lawyers can sleep with their clients?

If not, I would be interested in knowing why you set up the plot for them to be sexually involved while he represented her.

I may write a post about the issue but it would be subsequent to the review and state that it may contain spoilers for readers.

….. (I am omitting a portion of my email as it contains a spoiler directly about the ending) …..

If you would like to respond to this email and have your response in the post please let me know. If you would prefer to respond but not have the response posted I would not put up the reply.

I am glad to have found a “new” legal writer to read from America.

Best wishes.

Bill Selnes

Thanks for the email.  Yes, this was a potential conundrum. Here in Washington Professional Rule 1.8 (j) provides that the attorney cannot represent a client unless the sexual relationship pre-dated the date he is asked to represent the client. That is one of the reasons why, in Murder One, I had to establish the relationship before the request for representation.  While I don’t advocate an attorney representing a client he is sleeping with, for the purposes of the story I needed that bond. You will note that after the point in the book where Sloane figures out Barclay is guilty (not announced to the reader until the end) he manages not to sleep with her. For a while I considered not granting Barclay bail for this reason also. It is important to my readers that Sloane’s moral compass point north.

A second conundrum was whether a court would let Sloane represent her at all given his lack of criminal defense background.  I debated having John Kannon stay involved and represent her but that would have been a different book. I needed Sloane to be the main focal point. Again my criminal defense and prosecutor friends told me it was more probable he could represent her so long as the State was not seeking the Death Penalty.

….. (I omit a portion of the email related to the ending that I consider too much a spoiler.) …

My current novel involves an interest legal issue as well. A Post Conviction Relief Hearing for a convicted murderer. I’m having a lot of fun with it and with Blackstone’s Maxim about the guilty going free being better than one innocent being convicted. 

Thank you for taking the time to write and the mentions. I always enjoy hearing from readers, especially lawyer. I don’t always get things right, but I still work at it.

My best to you. I visit your country every year for the Surrey Writer’s Conference

Bob Dugoni


  1. Bill, when I ran a multiple surgery dental practice this was a problem. I could write a book about those years and the complex relationships, but would need very good legal representation.
    We were jokingly told at dental school that if you did not want to be crossed off the register it was better to kill your patients than sleep with them.

  2. Bill - Thanks for sharing this interesting perspective! And thanks to Robert Dugoni for answering your email in such depth. That issues really is a dilemma and he explains it clearly. Fascinating to learn about what's behind the story.

  3. Anonymous: Thanks for the comment. I would be glad to "legally" review a book on those relationships. Sex can be very hazardous to professional health.

  4. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I greatly appreciate Bob's response. It added greatly to my understanding of the plot.

  5. Bill, thanks for sharing your correspondence with Mr. Robert Dugoni as well as the legal ethical issue and the likely conflict of interest. It's very commendable that you write to, and interview, the writers whose books you read and review for your blog.