81-F-12(a) - DHS Prosecutor Representing Defense Clients

FORMAL ETHICS OPINION 81-F-12(a)

Subsequent to the issuance of Opinion 81-F-12, the attorney requesting the
opinion has notified the Board of additional facts relative to the case, and
requested further consideration of the issues.


The additional information furnished by the inquiring attorney is that the representation of
putative fathers in connection with disputed paternity cases under a program of the Social
Security Administration, administered through the Tennessee Department of Human
Services, would require that the attorney representing the putative father attack the
statutory and constitutional bases of the entire paternity program, as well as the manner in
which the Department of Human Services handles welfare cases and assignment of
paternity claims. This would necessitate his taking an adversarial position against
officials within the Welfare Department with whom he must deal, as their attorney, in his
representation of the State of Tennessee.


These additional facts clearly reveal a conflict of interest between representation of the
state agency and representation of the putative fathers.


As stated in Opinion 81-F-12, Canon 5 requires that an attorney shall exercise
independent professional judgment on behalf of a client, and such judgment shall be
exercised solely for the benefit of the client and free of compromising influences and
loyalties.


The additional facts cited by the inquiring attorney reveal the presence of compromising
influences and loyalties which create a conflict of interest.

This 12th day of August , 1981.

ETHICS COMMITTEE:

Randall Burcham
W. H. Lassiter
George E. Morrow

APPROVED AND ADOPTED BY THE BOARD