Thursday, June 11, 2009
Court finds concurrent conflict does not justify reversing conviction
The Legal Profession Blog is reporting today that the Idaho Supreme Court has affirmed a defendant's murder conviction even though the defendant claimed that his counsel labored under an imputed conflict of interest because a fellow public defender had represented the deceased wife's mother in a related matter. The court agreed that there was a conflict that would have required the personal disqualification of the other lawyer. However, the court found that the trial court's approval of a screen between the two lawyers was an adequate way to eliminate the problem (which is interesting since Idaho Rule of Professional Conduct 1.10 does not provide for screening as a cure for imputed concurrent conflicts). The court justified its decision concluding that there are unique considerations that apply to public defender offices that militate against a per se disqualification rule. The opinion is available here. I am not sure what to think, although the use of a screen to avert concurrent client conflicts does not sound right to me. But I will reserve my comments until I read the opinion.