Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Undivided Loyalty?

A criminal defendant in Georgia who had been convicted of armed robbery and murder was sentenced to death. He filed a habeas petition alleging that his trial attorney had a conflict of interest as the attorney was concurrently serving as a Special Assistant Attorney General. The petition was rejected on a variety of procedural grounds by the trial court. The Supreme Court of Georgia reversed and remanded for further proceedings, finding that it was error to conclude that the defendant either knew or should have known of his counsel's dual status. Rather, the court held that counsel had an affirmative duty to make disclosures to his client. The court found the claim was not procedurally barred and ordered further evidentiary hearings on the conflict issue. (Mike Frisch)

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