Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Husbands And Wives
A attorney who had represented both a defendant husband and his cooperating wife in a drug distribution investigation and trial engaged in both a Rule 1.7 and 1.9 violation, according to a recent decision of the Montana Supreme Court:
This proceeding concerns not a Sixth Amendment violation but evaluation of compliance with the Rules of Professional Conduct. Before the Commission, Detective Fritz testified that Neuhardt represented [the wife] Christenson when she gave incriminating information against [her husband] Vasquez, who also was Neuhardt’s client. Simply stated, Christenson was a materially adverse witness against Vasquez. Fritz’s unrefuted testimony was that Christenson had “ratted out” Vasquez. Even if Vasquez also implicated himself, Neuhardt failed to appreciate the conflicting interests between husband and wife or to explain those conflicts to his clients and pursue the possibility or effectiveness of any waiver.
Based on the foregoing, the Commission correctly concluded that Neuhardt violated Rule 1.7, MRPC, whether or not “actual prejudice” to Vasquez’s defense occurred as a result of Neuhardt’s joint representation.
The court imposed a public censure along with a 90-day suspension. The attorney must appear in court for the administration of the censure.
There is a problem with the link. The case is In re Solomon Neuhardt. (Mike Frisch)