Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Two defendants, who resided together as boyfriend and girlfriend, were convicted of offenses involving the death of the woman's five-month-old child. An attorney who had been initially appointed to represent both was permitted to represent only the boyfriend at trial after he had been relieved of the girlfriend's case. The attorney then cross-examined his former client at the trial: "This conflict culminated in the ghastly unrestrained process of [the former client's] cross-examination by [her former lawyer] at trial."
The Court of Appeal of Louisiana, Second Circuit, reversed both convictions. The court held that such adversity to a former client in the same matter involves an actual conflict. Thus, "it need not be shown that the divided loyalties actually prejudiced the defendant in the conduct of the trial." The boyfriend's conviction was reversed because he "was never advised of his right to obtain conflict-free counsel." (Mike Frisch)