Saturday, September 28, 2013
A public defender who engaged in ethical misconduct during the course of representing a convicted murderer in post-conviction proceedings was suspended for two years by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.
The attorney had information that a person incarcerated in Texas had confessed to the crime. She went to visit him and took a deposition in which he admitted the offense. However, she omitted information (contained in notes) that the Texas inmate knew her client, which the client had denied.
The use of the deposition violated her duty of candor to the tribunal.
Further, the attorney and the Texas inmate became "pen pals." They engaged in a personal correspondence that, when it ended, led the inmate to become angry and recant the confession.
The relationship was found to create a conflict of interest.
The Charleston Gazette had this report on the disciplinary hearing.
The Exponent Telegram reported that the attorney resigned her position as an assistant attorney general after the court ordered her suspension. (Mike Frisch)