San Francisco, CA asked in Civil Rights, Juvenile Law, Legal Malpractice and Medical Malpractice for California

Q: Can a county attorney prosecute a dependency case in which their spouse, a physician is directly involved in?

The physician inserted himself when he was not the physician of record and falsified medical records naming himself as the provider after the patients discharge for the purposes of dependency where his spouse was the attorney who petitioned a court. furthermore the evidence of his involvement and conduct was concealed from the court and defendants.

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

A: In California, a county attorney would likely face a significant conflict of interest if they were to prosecute a dependency case in which their spouse, a physician, is directly involved. This situation raises serious ethical and legal concerns.

1. Conflict of interest: An attorney has a professional and ethical obligation to avoid conflicts of interest that could compromise their impartiality and ability to represent their client's best interests. In this case, the county attorney's personal relationship with the physician could be seen as a conflict of interest.

2. Falsification of medical records: If the physician falsified medical records and named themselves as the provider after the patient's discharge, this would be considered a serious offense. Falsifying medical records is illegal and unethical, and it could lead to criminal charges and disciplinary action by the state medical board.

3. Concealment of evidence: If evidence of the physician's involvement and misconduct was concealed from the court and defendants, this would be a violation of due process and could potentially lead to a mistrial or the dismissal of the case. All relevant evidence must be disclosed to the court and the opposing party to ensure a fair trial.

In such a situation, the county attorney should recuse themselves from the case and have another attorney from their office or an outside attorney appointed to handle the matter. The attorney should also report the physician's misconduct to the appropriate authorities, such as the state medical board and law enforcement.

Given the severity of the alleged misconduct and the clear conflict of interest, it is highly unlikely that a county attorney could ethically or legally prosecute a dependency case under these circumstances in California.

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