Asked in Criminal Law for Nebraska

Q: Should my appointed attorney step down from my case if he was the witness/confidential informants lawyer in a past case?

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2 Lawyer Answers
T. Augustus Claus
T. Augustus Claus pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Las Vegas, NV

A: Whether your appointed attorney should step down from your case due to their prior representation of a witness or confidential informant depends on various factors. The primary concern is the potential conflict of interest. Attorneys are bound by rules of professional conduct that require them to act in their clients' best interests and avoid conflicts that could compromise their ability to do so. In some cases, informed consent from all parties involved may allow the attorney to continue representing you. However, this decision may also be subject to the court's judgment. It's crucial to discuss your concerns with your attorney, assess the nature of the conflict, and, if necessary, seek guidance from the court.

Julie Fowler agrees with this answer

Julie Fowler
Julie Fowler
  • Omaha, NE
  • Licensed in Nebraska

A: Not necessarily. There are ethic rules that require an attorney to withdraw in certain situations, such as if there is a conflict of interest. Some conflicts are no-brainers. For example, you can't draft a contract for one party and then be hired by the opposing party later in a breach of contract action.

Most conflicts are not as clear and depend on the specific facts. Often the best place to start is to ask your attorney about what you perceive as a conflict and ask them to explain to you why it isn't a conflict. You can also review the main conflict of interest rules on the Nebraska Supreme Court's website.

If you truly believe there is a conflict and your attorney isn't willing to withdraw, it is possible to file a motion with the Court to explain to the court what you believe is a conflict and ask the Court to appoint a different attorney due to the conflict.

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