Legal Ethics

Red Flag re Dual Representation: No-Contact Order Precludes Clients from Signing Retainer Together


A North Dakota attorney has been reprimanded and ordered to pay more than $7,000 in disciplinary proceeding costs for representing two clients with a conflict of interest that could not be waived.

Blake D. Hankey signed on to represent both the alleged perpetrator and the claimed victim in a criminal aggravated assault and terrorizing case, explains the North Dakota Supreme Court in an opinion (PDF) filed Monday.

The two signed a single representation agreement but, because of a no-contact order, had to do so separately.

The court adopted findings of a hearing panel, which said that an attorney cannot represent both the perpetrator and victim of a crime, regardless of whether they consent, and also found that Hankey had acted adversely to the interest of both of his clients in the representation.

The court held that another basis for the sanction was Hankey’s false claim to a prosecutor that his partners had OK’d the dual representation after determining there was no conflict.

Hat tip: Legal Profession Blog

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