Conflict of Interest Due to Public Defender's Office Representing Both Defendant and State's Key Witness

In Ortiz v. State, 844 So. 2d 824 (Fla. 5th DCA 2003), the Fifth District recognized the potential conflict of interest that may arise when the public defender's office represents both the defendant and the State's key witness. The Court stated: To deny a motion for separate representation, where a risk of conflicting interest exists, is reversible error. There exists a risk of conflicting interest in the instant case as the State's key witness against Ortiz, the confidential informant, was also being represented by the Office of the Public Defender. It cannot be said that the apparent conflict created when defense counsel represented both appellant Ortiz and the State's key witness is not prejudicial to Ortiz so as to have denied him his right to effective assistance of counsel. 844 So. 2d at 825-26.