October 1958

CONFLICT OF INTERESTSEMPLOYMENTPARTNER OF COUNT ATTORNEYThe law partner of a county attorney may not assist in the defense of a criminal case in the district court, regardless of whether the county attorney participates in the prosecution thereof.

Canon 6.


Lawyer X, a recent graduate of law school, is engaged in civil practice as a partner with his father, Y, in a small town of six thousand population. Y is, and has been for many years, the county attorney in the county in which they practice. Office expenses are taken out of the proceeds of the civil practice and the remainder divided equally. The county attorney's salary is retained by Y and X receives no part of it. X has several cases that are his own and for which separate records and files are kept and all proceeds from these matters are retained by X. The firm has one common secretary, but Y has all county attorney files in a separate room under lock. In addition to X and Y there is only one other attorney actively engaged in law practice in the town, but do little, if any, practice.

In this situation would it be a violation of the Code of Ethics (1) for X to represent the defendant in a criminal murder case where he will receive a substantial fee to assist Attorney Z who has no connection with X or Y and lives in a neighboring city--Y will assist the district attorney in prosecuting the case, (2) for X, under the same situation as outlined under (1) above, to take such employment if Y did not assist in the prosecution?


It is the opinion of the Committee that would be a violation of the Canons of Ethics for X to assist Attorney Z in the murder case and this would be true whether or not X's father and partner, Y, assisted the district attorney in the prosecution of the case. This inquiry has already been answered by the Committee in its Opinions Nos. 2337 and 132. (See Canon 6; also ABA Opinions Nos. 30, 118, 262.) (8-0.)