Legal Ethics

Double Trouble? Firm Defends 2 in Detroit Settlement Scandal

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Questions are being raised about a law firm’s representation of both the Detroit mayor and a top aide in an ongoing scandal over an $8.4 million city settlement. But the firm itself says no problem is posed by its dual representations.

“There is no conflict; we don’t anticipate one,” attorney Jeffrey Morganroth tells the Detroit Free Press, pointing out that there are no criminal charges against the two clients. “However, if new matters and issues arise, we will re-evaluate the situation.” He and his father practice together at Morganroth & Morganroth in the suburb of Southfield, and Mayer Morganroth is considered one of the best lawyers in the Detroit area.

Experts and the city council, however, are troubled by the situation, the newspaper reports.

“The city would be better represented by separate counsel,” says Larry Dubin, a law professor at the University of Detroit Mercy. “What’s best for the city may be different than what’s best for Christine Beatty,” he explains, referring to Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s top aide.

As discussed in an earlier post, the mayor and his chief of staff, who reportedly may have been having an affair, are under fire in the wake of an $8.4 million settlement of two civil cases against the city. City council members are now up in arms after news that city attorneys apparently recommended the settlement without disclosing a related controversy. It concerns alleged false testimony by the mayor in a police whistle-blower case that was reportedly contradicted when some 14,000 text messages subsequently came to light.

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