CHENANGO COUNTY – In an attempt to inform Chenango County residents on court proceedings and how tax dollars are spent, Chenango County Attorney Alan Gordon discussed the matter of conflict of interest and special prosecutors with The Evening Sun.
“As a general rule, an attorney cannot represent a client if there is a potential conflict with respect to a previous case,” said Gordon.
It was explained that if it’s presumed that an attorney has knowledge of confidential information regarding a case, it is an “ethical no-no” to prosecute said case.
“The general rule is that in a small office setting there is imputed knowledge,” said Gordon.
In essence, imputed knowledge is the presumption that what one person in a law firm knows, everyone in that law firm knows.
Gordon explained that this rule extends to district attorneys’ offices and public defenders’ offices alike.
“There are some times, though, that it is not a problem,” said Gordon. “There are some instances when you can hand a case off to an assistant within the office.”
Gordon said if that is not possible, a special prosecutor must be brought in by the judge.
“In Chenango County, there is almost always a conflict,” Gordon said. “In bigger counties, they can build in safeguards or firewalls to keep employees out of the loop.”