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.
A. B. Goddard
Jack C. Raulston
John T. Henniss CONCURS
APPROVED AND ADOPTED BY THE BOARD