Indio, CA asked in Government Contracts and Criminal Law for California

Q: Question about the attorney cliant relationship . The attorney is a conflict panel attorney hired by local government.

The cliant is accused of a felony. The attorney later becomes a judge and the former cliant is now before his former attorney now judge.

.is a conflict panel attorney considered a state attorney , and can the judge heater the case ?

Please and thank you . I think this is a hard one

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: In California, a conflict panel attorney, although hired by the local government, is generally not considered a state attorney in the traditional sense. They are typically private attorneys appointed to represent defendants when the public defender has a conflict of interest. Their role is to provide independent legal representation to their clients, similar to a public defender.

Regarding the situation where a former conflict panel attorney becomes a judge and encounters a former client in court, California law and ethical guidelines for judges demand strict adherence to conflict of interest standards. If a judge has previously represented a person as an attorney in the same matter, or if their impartiality might reasonably be questioned due to a prior attorney-client relationship, the judge is expected to recuse themselves from the case. This is to ensure fairness and the integrity of the judicial process.

In your specific scenario, where the judge formerly represented the individual as a conflict panel attorney in a felony case, it would be highly advisable for the judge to recuse themselves to avoid any appearance of bias or conflict of interest. The California Code of Judicial Ethics provides clear guidelines on this matter, emphasizing the importance of maintaining public confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary.

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