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Defining Conflict of Interest

Houston, TX |
Filed under: Professional ethics

Would being friends on facebook be a conflict of interest for law enforcement official investigating misconduct complaint of fellow officer?
Example: Captain is the internal affairs officer who investigates misconduct complaint against Deputy that was filed but both officers are friends on facebook. Is this a potential conflict of interest?

Attorney Answers 3


  1. This is not the place for this discussion. You need to contact an attorney or attorney/professor of ethics to discuss the dilemma. Moreover, you should either withdraw from the investigation unless you are the one being investigate. You should also steer clear of any communications or interactions on Facebook during the investigation to give an appearance of impropriety.

    Good luck!

    My response herein is an attempt to give you general information and direction and is not intended to constitute an attorney-client relationship as perceived by state law.


  2. It is per se imprudent for the commanding officer (or any investigating officer) of an Internal Affairs unit to be friending on social media with officers within the department. The lack of judgment in such conduct is staggering, but it is not a conflict of interest as the law defines conflicts of interest. I choose to believe that the command structure of the department does not know about this, assuming that the factual premise of your post is true and verifiable.

    No legal advice here. READ THIS BEFORE you contact me! My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as if they were legal advice. I give legal advice ONLY in the course of a formal attorney-client relationship set forth in a written document executed by the client and by me or a member of my firm. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. My law firm does not provide free consultations. Please do not call or write to me with a “few questions” that require me to analyze the specific facts of your history and your license application and prescribe for you how to get a State license. I can give advice, make recommendations and answer specific questions only after reviewing the evidence and documents applicable to a specific client and following a personal meeting in my office in which the relevant facts can be developed and analyzed. My law firm presently accepts cases involving State and federal licenses and permits; discipline against State and federal licenses; and disciplinary and academic challenges to universities, colleges, boarding schools, and private schools. We take cases of wrongful termination or employment discrimination only if the claims involve peace officers, universities or colleges.


  3. It is certainly a possibility that it is a conflict of interest. But, this is not a legal question on ethics, but rather an issue for internal affairs of the police department to investigate.

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