August 1955

CONFLICTING INTERESTS - FIRM'S PRIOR EMPLOYMENT - The State cannot consent to be represented by a district attorney who, prior to his election, was a member of a firm which had been employed by the defendants in the criminal proceedings.

Canon 6.


A firm of attorneys accepted employment to represent the defendants in some criminal cases pending in the state district court, in the county of the attorney's residence.  On a change of venue, these criminal cases were removed to another judicial district.  Subsequently X, a member of the firm, became district attorney in the county where these criminal actions were filed.  X had not participated actively in the defense of the criminal actions.  After the change of venue, the criminal indictments were dismissed and the matter is again before the grand jury in the county where the actions were instituted and where X is now district attorney.  Would it violate the Canons of Ethics for X to represent the State in future proceedings in these criminal cases while Y, former partner of X, continues to represent defendants?


The committee is of the opinion that it would violate Canon 6 for X to represent the State under these circumstances. Canon 6 provides that it is unprofessional to represent conflicting interests, except by express consent of all concerned, given after a full disclosure of the facts.  Since X's firm was employed to represent defendants, X was attorney for the defendants, even though he was not active in the cases.  The State, which now employs X, could not give its consent so as to allow X to represent it after having been employed by the adverse parties.  (7-0)