Friday, December 29, 2017

Illinois Supreme Court decides People v Cole, holding the Public Defender's office is not a "firm" for purposes of conflicts of interest

Back in September I wrote about a case before the Illinois Supreme Court called People v Cole in which the Public Defender refused to represent a client arguing that accepting the representation would constitute a concurrent conflict of interest.  Go here for that post which includes links to the oral argument.

In my original post, I wrote that based on the position adopted by the US Supreme Court in Holloway v Arkansas, "it would seem like the contempt conviction should be reversed."  But my position assumed that the PD's office would be considered just like any other law firm for purposes of a conflict -- ie, that if one lawyer had a conflict, the conflict would be imputed to other lawyers in the firm.

Well, about a month ago, the Illinois Supreme Court issued its decision and it did not hold as I predicted precisely because it attacked my premise.  It reiterated that in Illinois the PD's office should not be considered to be a law firm for purposes of conflicts of interest. 

You can read the opinion here and a good comment on the case at the Legal Ethics Forum.

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