81-F-23 - City Attorney

FORMAL ETHICS OPINION 81-F-23

An inquiry has been made concerning the propriety of a City Attorney
defending a person being prosecuted in Criminal Court by the City Police
Department.


A member of the law firm serves as City Attorney. The firm is paid to advise the police
department and other departments of the City Manager form of government on a daily
basis. The firm may advise the police department about a particular case, or may advise
concerning a general procedure. Even though the firm does not advise on every case, the
firm is always available to the police department and all other departments on a daily
basis.


Formal Ethics Opinion 81-F-18 adopting the language in the matter of In Re: Advisory
Opinion of Kentucky Bar Association, 613 S.W.2d 416 stated:


It is fundamental that energetic representation of criminal
defendants often entails vigorous cross-examination of
police officers with an eye to discrediting their testimony.
Presented with the dilemma of alienating a group of police
officers on the one hand and providing a criminal defendant
with the most energetic possible defense on the other, the
attorney faces a conflict which seriously endangers his
ability to zealously represent his client as is required by
Canon 7 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
The Supreme Court of Kentucky in the case cited further stated:
By its very nature, criminal defense is an area of law that is
subjected to intense public scrutiny. The public demand for
professional independence is great. Canon 9 of the Code
states as follows: 'A lawyer should avoid even the
appearance of professional impropriety.' -- The point is not
whether impropriety exists but that any appearance of
impropriety is to be avoided ....


This committee adopts the rulings cited hereinabove and concludes that the conduct
proposed in the inquiry is improper.

This 31st day of December , 1981.

ETHICS COMMITTEE:

A. B. Goddard
Jack C. Raulston
John T. Henniss CONCURS

APPROVED AND ADOPTED BY THE BOARD