January 17, 2008
Conflict? What Conflict?
A man named Renfred Spillman and his cousin Antoine Parks were in a car that was stopped by a Florida highway patrol officer. Parks, the driver, was charged with traffic offenses. Spillman was charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, as a result of the discovery of a weapon in the center console of the car.
Spillman and Parks met with attorney Brown together. Spillman paid a fee and left believing he had retained Brown. Brown entered an appearence on behalf of Parks but arranged for another attorney to enter an appearence for Spillman. Brown's "actions towards Spillman were more often those of someone who did represent him than someone who did not." A referee found misconduct (but not on conflicts charges) and recommended that Brown be publicly reprimanded.
The Florida Supreme Court rejected the conclusion that Brown did not engage in a conflict of interest. The interests of the two clients were directly adverse. For that and other ethics violations in the underlying case, the court suspended Brown for ninety days
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