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Ghostwriting pleadings for a pro se litigant violates a lawyer’s ethical duty of candor to the court and may amount to a violation of federal court rules, a U.S. magistrate judge holds in a case of first impression in New Jersey.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Tonianne Bongiovanni barred a lawyer from informally assisting a widow in her ERISA suit against Merck & Co.’s pension program, finding “undisclosed ghostwriting is not permissible under the current form of the [Rules of Professional Conduct] in New Jersey.”

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