I went to court with my attorney and he approached the other party with hugs. I did not know before this that they knew each other. Should I have dismissed him? Should he have dismissed himself as a conflict of interest. I received 6-23 months in jail.
He should definitely have disclosed to you both his knowledge of the other party and the nature of his relationship with them before you agreed/decided to have him represent your interests. Without knowing the details of the case or of his relationship I cannot tell you if you would have been better of having dismissed him.
It is a potential conflict that attorney should have disclosed to you well prior to the hearing. One the potential conflict was disclosed, you would have been properly informed and allowed to time to make a decision based on the nature of the relationship as explained by your attorney, preferably in writing. It is unknown what effect that relation may have had on proceeding. You can always contact your attorney, even after the fact, preferably in writing to discuss your concerns.
Consult an attorney in your jurisdiction to determine your rights, responsibilities and the appropriate action(s) you may wish to undertake. Answers to questions are for general purposes only and do not establish an attorney-client relationship.
As this was a criminal matter who did you approach with hugs? The complainant: that could be a serious problem. The Prosecutor: This is much less likely a problem, in fact it arguably would have helped you. It is very common that attorneys know each other from law school, previous jobs, and the community. In my experience those relationships would help and not harm a defendant.
The above is for general informational purposes only. It is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship of any kind. It is impossible to provide legal advice with the little information provided. You should not act based on the general information provided and immediately contact an attorney. I am only licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
I first yield to any PA attorney as disciplinary rules can be state-specific. Secondly, I tend to agree with the other lawyers already in here that a relationship close enough to provoke hugging probably needed to be disclosed to you. You should not have had to find out about it for the first time in court.
That said, cases aren't resolved in one court appearance and you would have had plenty of time to inquire about this. Moreover, it matters whether these folks actually testified against you or you took a plea. If they testified and the lawyer babied his cross examination or impeachment of them, that's one thing. If the case made on documents or testimony of others or you pled, that's quite another.
Do not confuse this relationship and failure to disclose with something that would, on its own merits, lead to a reversal or mitigation of your criminal outcome. Talk to a lawyer about that and see if you have any timelines left to do something about it. You may found out you actually got a good deal. We certainly cannot tell from your narrative.
When I was a prosecutor most of my friends in the Court were from the Public Defender's Office, the same people who would try and tear into my officer at the Preliminary Hearing. I fail to see HOW them hugging each other resulted in your conviction.
What do you want a lawyer who spits at the prosecutor? That's a great way to negotiate good plea deals...
The above statement should not be construed as legal advice, does not create an attorney-client relationship, and is provided purely for informational purposes. You are advised to seek legal advice from an attorney and NOT AN UNLICENSED PARALEGAL SERVICE for any legal questions you have.
It should have been disclosed to you and may be grounds for filing a post conviction relief claim (ie. ineffective counsel). You should also balance this against the remainder of evidence against you and your prospects for success at a new trial
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Depends on who he hugged. If he hugged the prosecutor, not a conflict. Defense attorneys and prosecutors are often friends, though why he would hug the prosecutor in open court I cannot say. It really isn't a great idea to do something like that. Just doesn't look great.
If you are talking about the victims, he should have told you if he was that close to them. I suggest you speak with another criminal attorney and find out if he believes what you received was appropriate. Then you will have a better sense of whether it is appropriate to act.
I am licensed in Pennsylvania. Members of my firm are licensed in various states, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. We handle cases involving personal injury (car accidents slip and falls, etc.,) medical malpractice, nursing home abuse, workers' compensation, social security disability and legal malpractice. Nothing I write on Avvo is legal advice, but instead contains general educational information. Please do not act or refrain from acting based upon what you read in anything I write on Avvo without retaining your own lawyer in your state. Also please remember that this post does not form an attorney/client relationship between you and me. If you have specific legal questions, you should contact an attorney in your state for assistance.
As pointed out, if your attorney hugged the Assistant DA, this is not a reason for conflict as most members of the bar are friendly, but still can fight like cats and dogs in court. If the other party you mention was the victim, you may have grounds for a new trial or post conviction relief based on a conflict. An attorney handling your appeal would need to know more facts before advising you to do so.
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