I submitted a request for information to a government agency and got back an answer from a lawyer that seems to constitute legal advice prohibited under DC bar rule 4.3. Would a government (law enforcement) general counsel have some exemption from the rule dealing with unrepresented persons?
In a surprisingly brief reply, the attorney said only:
The United States Capitol Police respectfully declines to provide the information requested in your July 26, 2021 email below. The information and communications requested are not public records subject to the public right of access under federal common law. <end of message>
Shouldn't that be considered legal advice? I would think advising his client would be fine, but not a public member, particularly as his opinion puts my interests in conflict with the organizations.
Background: In a single e-mail, I requested six specific categories of records from the Capitol Police. Furthermore, I requested them under the common law Right to Public Records because the same lawyer has (in response to other requestors) refused the request on the basis that FOIA does not apply.
The guy didn't even identify his role in the organization. As he didn't, I checked him out on LinkedIn, where he describes himself as Senior Counsel & Ethics Attorney for the Capitol Police.
I'm not asking if he's right, but if his response brings his own ethics into question?
Legal Advice vs legal information
Unlike legal information, legal advice refers to the written or oral counsel about a legal matter that would affect the rights and responsibilities of the person receiving the advice. In addition, actual legal advice requires careful analysis of the law as it applies to a person's specific situation - as opposed to speculation based on generic facts. -- https://www.findlaw.com/hirealawyer/do-you-need-a-lawyer/what-is-legal-advice.html