What is Attorney Conflict of Interest?

Three years after being sentenced to federal prison for the receipt of bribes from a San Antonio lawyer, a former district judge lost an appeal. Part of the appeal alleges that the man’s former attorneys convinced him not to cooperate with an FBI investigation because these attorneys were among those being investigated. Due to this conflict of interest, the former judge argues that a violation occurred of his Sixth Amendment right to effective counsel.

In the ruling that was issued, the appellate court found that the former judge had waived a claim of conflict of interest even though no hearing was held to discuss these allegations. The court found that even if the judge was ignorant of a potential risk of conflicts as well as his right to non-conflicted counsel, the former judge still waived any conflict of interest issues. The former judge’s attorney has already expressed his disagreement with the court’s decision and announced plans to appeal the ruling.

The judge resigned from his 114th District Court seat in February 2014 and pled guilty to honest services wire fraud and admitted that he had accepted less than $7,000 in car repairs and other services in exchange of favors from the bench. The judge began serving his prison time in Memphis, Tennessee in September 2017 and is scheduled to be released sometime in 2019.

Attorney Conflict of Interest & Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

Most people are familiar with claims of ineffective assistance of counsel, which are often raised for the first time in an appeal, but uncertain of just how these claims are made. Creating a successful ineffective counsel claim can be particularly challenging because courts tend to presume that a lawyer’s representation was constitutionally adequate. One of the most common bases that our law firm recognizes for ineffective assistance of counsel claims involves conflicts of interest.

What are Conflicts of Interest Appeals?

In this type of appeal, a person argues that he or she received ineffective assistance of counsel as the result of a conflict of interest. For these claims to be successful, a person must establish that the attorney had an actual conflict of interest and that this conflict “adversely affected” the lawyer’s performance. A conflict is considered “actual” if a person’s attorney took actions or refrained from taking actions that harmed the person being defended and benefitted another individual.

Most often, conflicts of interests occur when a lawyer is representing co-defendants or an attorney has previously represented another party whose interest are linked to the current case. Conflicts of interest can also arise if an attorney represented a defense witness in a connected trial, if the victim of the crime was also the lawyer’s client, or if the lawyer has a connection to the prosecution.

Speak with a Skilled Federal Criminal Appeal Lawyer

While conflicts of interest should not happen, it is, unfortunately, the case that they sometimes do. If you need to create a strong appeal for an ineffective assistance of counsel claim, do not hesitate to contact the Federal Criminal Law Center today.