Conflict of interest in Brian coburger case leaves legal experts stunned Brian coburger's court appointed attorney was representing the mother of one of the four students he is accused of killing before taking his case raising questions for legal experts about whether it poses a conflict of interest.
And Taylor the chief of the Kootenay County Public Defender's Office began representing coburger 28 after he was extradited to Idaho where he is charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of felony burglary earlier in January coburger is accused of breaking into a rental home in Moscow Idaho in the early.
Hours of November 13th and fatally stabbing Kaylee gun calves 21 Madison Mogan 21 Zana kernadol 20 and Ethan Chapin 20. he was a PhD student in criminology at Washington State University in nearby Pullman but was arrested at his parents home in Pennsylvania on December 30th coburger has yet to enter a plea but a.
Lawyer who represented coburger in Pennsylvania has said that he is eager to be exonerated court records show Taylor filed an attorney withdrawal notice in Kootenay County court for Colonel's mother Cara kernadol on January 5th the same day coburger made an initial appearance in the lotta County courtroom.
The substituted attorney Christopher Schwartz is listed as a conflict public defender in the court documents since Taylor took over the public defender's office in 2017 her office has defended the parent in four cases the Idaho Statesman reported news Nation reported that in the most recent case drug charges were filed.
Against Kara kernadol on November 19 less than a week after the murders took place Taylor is now listed as an inactive attorney in the case according to the Statesman Taylor's office has also represented another parent of a murder victim in four criminal cases since she became Chief.
Public defender Taylor is named as an inactive attorney in two of those cases the newspaper reported legal experts say the details raise questions about possible conflicts of interest in what has become an extremely high profile case Newsweek has attempted to contact the.
Colonel family through its new attorney and Taylor's office for comment the mere fact that the public defender was forced to make a decision about which client to represent reflects a potential issue of competing loyalties Michael McAuliffe a former Federal prosecutor and elected state attorney told Newsweek.
McAuliffe said Taylor is surely acting in good faith trying to navigate the applicable ethical obligations but the potential conflict of interest is significant Taylor may have withdrawn from the active case involving victim's parent when she was assigned the co-burger case but she can't unlearn the information.
She acquired in the course of those earlier representations he said we have no idea to what extent that information might include the murder victim further a murder victim's relatives have a right to be heard in almost every jurisdiction in the U.S in a Charged homicide case.
If the state files a notice of intent to seek the death penalty the parent the public defender's former client will have a specific right and special standing to be heard in the capital case including any proposed resolution or plea Nima Romani an attorney and former Federal prosecutor said there is a.
Potential conflict of interest because Taylor presumably has to cross-examine the parent during the guilt or death penalty phase of the trial if necessary the parent is a former and not current client so the ethical rules are very fact-driven Romani told Newsweek the analysis turns on whether Taylor received confidential information from.
The parent during her representation that may be relevant to co-burger or the victim if so Taylor may have to wall herself off and have another attorney handle the parent Witness if the wall does not effectively maintain the confidentiality of apparent Communications or if the wall would not.
Allow Taylor to effectively represent co-burger Taylor would have to withdraw from the case entirely if there is an actual conflict it may be imputed to the public defender's office disqualifying anyone in the office from representing co-berger Taylor is one of 13 public defenders in Idaho who are approved to lead a capital.
Punishment case but the only one in North Idaho according to the Statesman prosecutors have not yet indicted if they will seek the death penalty in coburger's case the fact that other public defenders in Idaho are qualified to handle death penalty cases might provide a solution but those other qualified public.
Defenders don't appear to be located in northern Idaho McAuliffe said the public defender's assignment to the co-burger case presents complicated scenario where the applicable code of professional conduct for Idaho lawyers provides guidance but no easy or clear answers he added that the case requires.
Diligence to avoid issues that might interfere with the Integrity of the process or the result the public defender's role as the lawyer for a murder victim's parent where she now represents the alleged murderer at a minimum presents an appearance of a possible conflict Chris Darden a prosecutor in the O.J.
Simpson trial has said that Taylor should not be representing coburger it's the new one where there's a conflict and it's the new one that she should have conflicted off he said on news Nations Cuomo she should not be representing him she should continue to represent the mother that she has represented or her.
Office is represented on three and four occasions prior it makes no sense to conflict on those and keep this case a gag order issued by lotta County Magistrate Judge Meghan Marshall earlier this month bars Taylor along with law enforcement agencies and others associated with the case from talking about it.
It was broadened last week to also prohibit attorneys representing survivors Witnesses or the victims family members from talking or writing about the case
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