Does Representation by An Attorney for Both Defendant and a Witness for the State Create Conflict of Interest ?
In People v. Coleman, 301 Ill. App. 3d 290, 703 N.E.2d 137, 234 Ill. Dec. 525 (1998), the defendant's attorney represented both the defendant and a witness for the State. Coleman, 301 Ill. App. 3d at 300, 703 N.E.2d at 141.
The attorney withdrew as the State witness's attorney just minutes before the witness took the stand to testify against the defendant. Coleman, 301 Ill. App. 3d at 300, 703 N.E.2d at 141.
The court found that a per se conflict of interest existed because, even though counsel withdrew as the witness's attorney during the trial, he was laboring under a duty both to the defendant and the witness during the time he was preparing for the defendant's trial, creating a per se conflict of interest. Coleman, 301 Ill. App. 3d at 300-01, 703 N.E.2d at 144.
Hence, the court held that the attorney's withdrawal did not cure the conflict. Coleman, 301 Ill. App. 3d at 300, 703 N.E.2d at 144.