In re Ockrassa

In re Ockrassa, 165 Ariz. 576, 799 P.2d 1350 (1990), involved a disciplinary proceeding commenced against a prosecutor who had failed to disqualify himself from prosecuting his former client. While employed as a public defender, Ockrassa had represented a client in three DUI cases resulting in convictions. Ockrassa was subsequently hired as a prosecutor and was assigned to prosecute his former client, "who was charged with DUI as a third offense within the preceding 60 months." 165 Ariz. at 576, 799 P.2d at 1350. In the course of prosecuting his former client, Ockrassa alleged the prior DUI convictions for enhancement purposes. The former client requested that Ockrassa disqualify himself, but Ockrassa refused, arguing that he did not violate Arizona Rule of Professional Conduct 1.9 because the prior DUI convictions were not substantially related to the case he was prosecuting. The Arizona Supreme Court disagreed, stating that "the validity of the prior convictions was directly in issue." 165 Ariz. at 578, 799 P.2d at 1352. The Ockrassa court further held: "We do not believe that, in the context of multiple DUI offenses, a "substantial relationship" is established only if the prior conviction is an element of the subsequent offense. One of the aims of ER 1.9 is to protect the client. . . . Respondent's conduct in prosecuting his former client created a substantial danger that confidential information revealed in the course of the attorney/client relationship would be used against the former client by . . . his former attorney." Id.