Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Defense counsel prosecutes his own client

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has an interesting story about an attorney in Wisconsin who defended a client in a drunken driving case in Waukesha County Circuit Court and, a week later, served as prosecutor in an unrelated trespassing case against the same client in municipal court in the Town of Oconomowoc.

Professor Jonathan Turley, whose blog was voted the best legal theory blog by the readers of the ABA Journal, has posted a comment on this story in which he concludes:

"So, [the attorney] has confidential information from [the client] as a client and has received money from him — yet Kay sees no problem in serving as a prosecutor against his client. . . .

Municipal Judge Douglas Stern was . . . well . . . stern with Kay. He expressed his unhappiness with the past relationship, saying that it did not “pass the smell test.” . . . .

Tom Martin, a former Town Board member, is critical of Kay, saying “Tim Kay has got his hands in too many pies. He’s in with the good old boys.”

It is hard to see how an attorney could conclude that these arrangements do not violate basic principles of professional conduct and legal ethics."

Prof. Turley's comment is available here.

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