FAQs - Conflicts of Interest

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Click through the catagories on the left for answers to some common questions.

If your question is not answered here, please contact us at (212) 693-0085. For individual attorney extensions, please refer to our staff page.

What is a conflict of interest?

A client is entitled to the undivided loyalty of his or her attorney. An obligation to some other person or organization that could interfere with the attorney’s duty of undivided loyalty to a client is called a “conflict of interest.”
 
For example, a single attorney or a single criminal defense organization usually cannot represent co-defendants. That is because, each time an attorney took some action on behalf of one of the co-defendants, he or she would have to consider the possibility that that action would harm the other co-defendant.  Because the attorney would always have to consider the interest of both co-defendants, neither co-defendant would have the attorney’s undivided loyalty.

What if Appellate Advocates is assigned to represent both me and someone whose interests conflict with mine?

Appellate Advocates cannot represent co-defendants on appeal. Under some circumstances, two clients may have conflicting interests because of their involve­ment in the same case, even though they are not technically co-defendants. If we are assigned to co-defendants, or to two clients who otherwise have conflicting interests in the case, we will continue to represent one of the clients and ask the Appellate Division to reassign the other client's case to a new attorney.
 

Will it matter who represented me or my co-defendant at the trial level?

No. Appellate Advocates is completely independent from any other criminal defense organization. Therefore, regardless of who represented you or a co-defendant at trial, we will have no duty of loyalty to anyone but you. 
 
We will act solely in your best interest, regardless of whether that helps or hurts any co-defendant. Also, we will make an independent assessment of the performance of your trial attorney. If your appeals attorney believes that there is merit to an argument that the trial representation you received was inadequate, and that raising that issue would increase your chances of success on appeal, nothing would prevent him or her from raising that argument on your behalf.