There has a been a good deal of speculation as to what Attorney James McGee’s conflict of interest might be on this case. One suggestion has even been that he may be planning a run in the next election for judge:
“After the hearing, an individual close to the defense told the Sentinel that McGee believed “heart and soul with no wavering” that the alternative suspect in the killings the defense had presented at trial, “Dan Kavanaugh, was involved directly or orchestrated the murders and that Chase had no involvement whatsoever.”
McGee had dedicated more than a year of his life to preparing for the trial and in representing Merritt during the trial, the individual said. “He was staggering under the workload and lack of pay. He has better things to do, now that the trial is over and it’s not his bailiwick anymore.” It was suggested to the Sentinel that McGee, who was a prosecutor for most of his career before becoming a defense attorney, may be contemplating a run for judge, and that is what the conflict stems from, as the 2020 election year is approaching.”
But even if Attorney McGee were to enter the 2020 election, why would this present a conflict of interest if trial proceedings are expected to end on December 13? Certainly there is no problem with him seeing this trial through to sentencing, and departing then.
It is interesting to note that the first request for a continuance was made by the defense on July 11, a week after they received jury questionnaires. It might be that there is a very strong case to be made for a new trial, based on a number of factors, and that McGee’s sudden and lengthy absence from trial, though unavoidable, (ineffective assistance of counsel) coupled with the fact that the judge did not allow for a mistrial at that point, will be just two of many issues raised. Or perhaps the “conflict” in relation to motions to be filed has nothing to do with McGee’s unavoidable absence, but is actually due to the expectation that a motion for a new trial will prevail-or that there will be a need for further delays-and if McGee were to run for judge or simply doesn’t feel he can continue on the case, there exists a conflict of interest in regard to his ability to participate in future proceedings. All speculative, but interesting…
We shall see…
Rule 1.7 CalBar: Conflict of Interest/Current Clients
New Rules Related to Conflict of Interest (2019)
“Rule 1.7 forbids a lawyer from representing a client in a matter (a) that is directly adverse to or (b) that would present a significant risk that the representation would be “materially limited” by the lawyer’s responsibilities or relationship with another client, a former client, a third party, or the lawyer’s own interests …Feb 1, 2019″
General Definition of “Conflict of Interest”-
conflict of interest
“n. a situation in which a person has a duty to more than one person or organization, but cannot do justice to the actual or potentially adverse interests of both parties. This includes when an individual’s personal interests or concerns are inconsistent with the best for a customer, or when a public official’s personal interests are contrary to his/her loyalty to public business…”
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