Thursday, April 3, 2014

How not to practice law: offer to have your client testify against another defendant ...when the other defendant is also your client

Next week we will begin discussing conflicts of interest in criminal law practice.  Right on cue, the Legal Profession blog is reporting today on a case in which a lawyer was suspended because he had represented both a defendant husband and his cooperating wife in a drug distribution investigation and trial.  The court found the conduct violated both Rule 1.7 and Rule 1.9.

The lawyer was representing the husband while representing the wife who cut a deal in exchange for testimony against the husband.   For this reason, the court held that the lawyer "failed to appreciate the conflicting interests between husband and wife or to explain those conflicts to his clients and pursue the possibility or effectiveness of any waiver." For this reason, the court affirmed the finding that the lawyer had violated Rule 1.7, regardless of whether “actual prejudice” to the husband's defense occurred as a result. The case is called In re Solomon Neuhardt.

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