Ethics Committee Formal Opinion #1992‑93/2
Conflict of Interest: Lawyer Member of City Council Opposing City Employees in Court
November 18, 1992
The Rules of Professional Conduct do not prohibit a lawyer who is a city councilor, or members of the lawyer‑official’s firm, from representing criminal defendants in the courts where the lawyer‑official does not have any oversight authority for the prosecutor and police witnesses. (Rule 1.7 (b), Rule l.11A).
A lawyer may not state or imply an ability to influence improperly city employees. (Rule l.11A(b)(5), Rule 8.4(d)).
A lawyer‑official who has the power to vote on compensation of certain municipal positions, such as prosecutor, should consider recusal where that lawyer‑official or members of that lawyer’s firm routinely oppose the prosecutor in court.
Does an impermissible conflict of interest arise when a lawyer is a member of the city council and that lawyers or colleagues in the lawyer‑official’s firm oppose members of the city police department and city prosecutor in the courts in criminal defense matters?