Monday, June 11, 2007

Conflict Requires Reversal Of Conviction

May a public defender represent a criminal defendant who claims that the crime was committed by another person who is represented by the same public defender's office on unrelated charges? No, according to the Maryland Court of Appeals. The defendant was charged with a home invasion robbery of a marijuana dealer. He advised his appointed public defender that the crime had been committed by a man named Muse, who the office also represented. The conflict prevented the public defender from seeking to interview Muse.  The public defender sought a continuance after learning of the issue, which the administrative judge denied. The court held that "counsel's predicament created an actual conflict of interest" and ordered a new trial. The court rejected the state's claim that there was no conflict because Muse was not a co-defendant in the case. (Mike Frisch)

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