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Zoey, JD
Zoey, JD, Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Active member of the NYS bar since 1989
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What constitutes a conflict of interest in a public defender

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What constitutes a "conflict of interest" in a public defender? I had a public defender assigned to my children as their attorney?? by my ex-husband's lawyer on false accusation of abuse -
My current lawyer uses the same public defender, and is defending her as being a "good" person more than defending me as I have questions about things she has said to my son - Can I report a "conflict of interest" in this case? How do I clear my name in false accusations from an autistic son that actually has assaulted me five times?

I don't see a conflict of interest here. Public defenders are not appointed by attorneys. They are appointed by the court. Yours was assigned by the court to represent the interest of your child in a family court matter. This is standard. The role of the guardian ad litem is to safeguard the child's rights, and what's in the best interest of the child may not always be what either you or your husband would wish.

If your lawyer is defending her, it's likely because people who practice in a certain field of law and in a specific county all get to know each other well. Doesn't mean they are friends, but it does mean that they have dealt with each other before. If your lawyer tells you that the GAL is a good one, that's not a conflict. That's a stroke of luck, because it means he believes he can deal with her well and ultimately that may be to your advantage.

Conflict of interests can certainly occur, but on the facts that you've presented I don't see anything to indicate there is one here.

Edited by FranL on 2/1/2011 at 5:25 AM EST
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
What if the public defender is always with the ex-husband's lawyer, and actually acted in visiting both boys while visiting their dad for vacation and not allowed to talk to me as their mother - They wondered where I was - My first lawyer didn't speak up for me, and let the other lawyer present false evidence about me that caused a public defender. I still think she is a conflict of interest in the other lawyer defending her over myself or my son. My lawyer can't defend me correctly. What is a conflict of interest?

A conflict of interest is when the lawyer involved may not be handling his client's matter correctly because he has a personal or professional interest in someone on the other side of the case that affects his opinion.

If you told me that the public defender had a social relationship with your ex-husband, for example, and thus was making recommendations that went against you, that would be potential conflict of interest for sure. But the fact that she knows your ex's lawyer doesn't have to mean anything. Your lawyer thinks she's doing what she should be doing.

If you don't like your lawyer, or don't trust your lawyer, or think that your lawyer is not working hard enough on your behalf, you can certainly get yourself a new lawyer. I'm not suggesting at all that your lawyer is representing you well. I have no idea about that. It's not the job of the GAL to be on your side or your ex's side. But if you're sure that she's biased against you and colluding somehow with the other side, your lawyer can bring that to the judge's attention and try to get another one appointed.
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