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Legal Memorandum: Attorney's Conflict of Interest Issue

Issue: Do allegations of undue influence by a prospective guardian against the ward prohibit one attorney from representing both the ward and the guardian?

Area of Law: Ethics & Professional Responsibility
Keywords: Conflict of interest; Attorney; Prospective guardian and ward
Jurisdiction: District of Columbia
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 10/01/2007

In the case of In re Penning, 930 A.2d 144 (D.C. Ct. App. July 12, 2007), the lower court had held that the attorneys representing the proposed ward should be disqualified because they had also apparently represented the ward’s husband, one of the proposed guardians, and there were allegations of undue influence.  On appeal, the appellate court reversed, stating that the allegations could not be accepted, without more, to disqualify counsel but required an evidentiary hearing.  The appellate court did note, however, that if the allegations of undue influence were proven, the lawyers would be disqualified from representing the proposed ward.  Id.

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