Conflict of Interest Claims
A conflict of interest claim emanates from the Sixth Amendment guarantee that criminal defendants have the right to effective assistance of counsel. This guarantee includes the right to representation free from conflict. See Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 688, 104 S. Ct. 2052, 80 L. Ed. 2d 674 (1984). The question of whether a defendant's counsel labored under an actual conflict of interest that adversely affected counsel's performance is a mixed question of law and fact. See Cuyler v. Sullivan, 446 U.S. 335, 342, 100 S. Ct. 1708, 64 L. Ed. 2d 333 (1980).
. . . In certain Sixth Amendment contexts, prejudice is presumed and the claimant need not make a specific showing of prejudice. See Strickland, 466 U.S. at 692 (stating that actual or constructive denial of assistance of counsel and various kinds of state interference with counsel's assistance are legally presumed to result in prejudice); United States v. Cronic, 466 U.S. 648, 659, 104 S. Ct. 2039, 80 L. Ed. 2d 657 & n.25 (1984). However, as to most claims of ineffective assistance of counsel based upon conflict of interest, a more limited presumption of prejudice applies. See Strickland, 466 U.S. at 692 ("Prejudice is presumed only if the defendant demonstrates that counsel 'actively represented conflicting interests' and that 'an actual conflict of interest adversely affected his lawyer's performance.'") (quoting Cuyler, 446 U.S. at 350, 348).
Accordingly, a defendant is required to allege that trial counsel "'actively represented conflicting interests' and that 'an actual conflict of interest adversely affected his lawyer's performance.'" Quince v. State, 732 So. 2d 1059, 1064 (Fla. 1999) (quoting Strickland, 466 U.S. at 692 (quoting Cuyler, 446 U.S. at 350, 348)).
And the Court has explained:
A lawyer suffers from an actual conflict of interest when he or she "actively represents conflicting interests." Cuyler, 446 U.S. at 350. To demonstrate an actual conflict, the defendant must identify specific evidence in the record that suggests that his or her interests were compromised. See Herring v. State, 730 So. 2d 1264, 1267 (Fla. 1998). A possible, speculative or merely hypothetical conflict is "insufficient to impugn a criminal conviction." Cuyler, 446 U.S. at 350. Bell v. State, 965 So. 2d 48, 77-78 (Fla. 2007) (quoting Hunter v. State, 817 So. 2d 786, 791-92 (Fla. 2002)) .