Disqualifying An Attorney In California

"A trial court's authority to disqualify an attorney derives from the power inherent in every court, 'to control in furtherance of justice, the conduct of its ministerial officers, and of all other persons in any manner connected with a judicial proceeding before it, in every matter pertaining thereto." (In re Complex Asbestos Litigation (1991) 232 Cal. App. 3d 572, 585 [283 Cal. Rptr. 732].) When analyzing the issue of disqualifying an attorney for an alleged conflict of interest, courts consider such factors as the client's right to counsel of his or her choice and the attorney's interest in representing the client. ( In re Complex Asbestos Litigation, supra, 232 Cal. App. 3d at p. 586.) Further, the court has an independent interest in ensuring trials are conducted within ethical standards of the profession and that legal proceedings appear fair to all that observe them. (People v. Peoples (1997) 51 Cal. App. 4th 1592, 1599 [60 Cal. Rptr. 2d 173].) " 'Where doubt may becloud the public's view of the ethics of the legal profession and thus impugn the integrity of the judicial process, it is the responsibility of the court to ensure that the standards of ethics remain high." ( Comden v. Superior Court (1978) 20 Cal. 3d 906, 912 [145 Cal. Rptr. 9, 576 P.2d 971, 5 A.L.R.4th 562].) Therefore, the client's recognizably important right to the counsel of her choice must yield to important considerations of ethics that run to the very integrity of our judicial process. ( Id. at p. 915.) Simply, the preservation of public trust within the scrupulous administration of justice and in the integrity of the bar is paramount. (Ibid.) Accordingly, where the court justifiably finds an actual conflict of interest, "there can be no doubt" it may decline a proffered waiver. ( Wheat v. United States (1988) 486 U.S. 153, 162 [108 S. Ct. 1692, 1698, 100 L. Ed. 2d 140].)