Conflict of Interest
CONFLICT OF INTEREST 2
The case I found involving a conflict of interest is Kennedy v. Eldridge, 201 Cal. App. 4th 1197 (2011). This was a family law case involving an unmarried couple and their child. The dispute was over paternity, child support and custody of Calvin Kennedy-Eldridge. The parties involved were the mother, Kayla Kennedy, and father, Tyler Eldridge. The attorney representing Tyler Eldridge was Richard Eldridge. Richard is Tyler’s father, which is where the question of conflict arose.
Attorney, Richard Eldridge had past client and business relations with Kennedy and her family members. Kennedy moved to disqualify Eldridge as Tyler’s attorney ...view middle of the document...
He argued that he had not gained any confidential information about Kennedy when his firm represented her father; and that the trial court had misapplied the advocate-witness rule. The Court of Appeal affirmed the disqualification finding that Kennedy had standing to bring the disqualification motion, regardless of the fact that she was never a client of Eldridge or his firm.
The court of appeal ruled that absent an attorney-client relationship, a lawyer's mere exposure to the confidences of an adversary does not, alone, warrant disqualification. However, where the attorney - through prior representation or improper means - obtains information that would likely be advantageous, disqualification is proper. Even though Kennedy had never been Eldridge's client, the court held that there was a potential for confidential information to be at issue. Eldridge's firm had represented Kennedy’s father, and Kennedy had provided a declaration in his divorce proceedings. The court reasoned that by virtue of these facts, Eldridge may have acquired confidential information about Kennedy’s personal life that could be used to her detriment in the custody battle.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST 4
A family court's function is to make delicate decisions that promote the child's best interest. The court applied California rule: CAL. FAM. CODE § 3020.
The court discussed and confirmed that this process could be severely disrupted in a situation where the child's grandfather might well argue for reducing the mother's time with her child, where counsel could wind up both litigating and testifying about what goes on in his household, and where Richard's Eldridge’s self-interest could skew the legal advice he gives to his own son.
The court continued in...