The potential conflicts confronting the lawyers in Mr. Trump’s prosecutions come from a variety of sources.
Some involve situations in which the lawyers could be put in the untenable position of cross-examining a former client in the service of defending a current one. Others stem from bumping up against the guardrails put in place to keep lawyers from advocating for their clients with one hand while possibly incriminating them with the other.
Then there is the issue of the lawyers’ bills largely being paid by Mr. Trump’s political action committee. That situation, said Stephen Gillers, a legal ethics professor at New York University, was theoretically not all that unusual. Organizations often foot the bill for employees who need legal representation resulting from “the scope of their employment,” he said.
Still, Mr. Gillers said, problems can arise when the entity paying the fees chooses or steers a lawyer toward a client and that lawyer has competing loyalties when it comes to the payer and the client’s best interests.
Many potential objections to conflicts in these cases could be waived by the clients or otherwise mitigated by the courts, Mr. Green said. But he cautioned that judges often lean toward avoiding conflicts at all costs — up to and including disqualifying lawyers who face them — because the consequences of allowing them to continue could result in the dismissal of the case. [Continue reading…]