State v. Reedy
In State v. Reedy, 177 W. Va. 406, 352 S.E.2d 158 (1986), the State did not deny that the defendant's appointed trial counsel was both a friend and a relative of the burglary victim. The victim was the prosecuting witness in the defendant's first trial.
The relationship was not revealed prior to trial.
On appeal, the defendant contended he was denied effective assistance of counsel because of the relationship and friendship of his trial counsel with the burglary victim.
The Court agreed "with the appellant that the potential conflict of interest in the family relationship, together with the lack of timely disclosure to the appellant, constituted a violation of the appellant's right to effective assistance of counsel." Id. at 409, 352 S.E.2d at 161-62.
In so finding, the Court reasoned that "the significant inquiry in the instant case is not whether actual conflict occurred because of the family relationship, but whether the potential for conflict was revealed to the defendant in a timely manner." Id. at 411, 352 S.E.2d at 163.
The Reedy court held:
The existence of a family relationship between a defense counsel and the crime victim must be disclosed to the accused at the earliest opportunity, so that the accused can make an intelligent decision whether to waive his right to assistance of counsel free from potential conflict, or to demand or retain different counsel. (Id. at 408, 352 S.E.2d at 160, Syl. Pt. 3.)