Friday, August 24, 2012
The Maryland Court of Appeals has held that an attorney who sues a criminal client for legal fees while the client is awaiting trial "operates under a potential conflict of interest."
In the context of a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel when a suit is filed, the client who fails to alert the trial court in a timely manner must demonstrate an "actual" conflict of interest that adversely affected the representation.
If the client can make this showing, prejudice will be presumed.
The client first advised the trial court of the lawsuit at sentencing.
The case was remanded for further proceedings to explore whether the lawsuit had an adverse impact on the representation. (Mike Frisch)