prosecutors and assistant prosecutors in Ohio are allowed to have
private law practices, but a new advisory opinion examines the conflict
of interest when it comes to their firms representing criminal
The Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline has issued an advisory opinion that revisits an opinion from 1988. While Opinion 2014-2
does not deviate from the 1988 conclusion that Ohio’s professional
ethics rules prohibit a part-time county prosecutor from representing
criminal defendants, the board now concludes that the prosecutor’s
private law firm may represent criminal cases under certain circumstances.
reviewing the rules that have been modified since the 1988 opinion was
issued, the board has concluded that other lawyers in the firm are able
to represent criminal defendants, as long as the part-time prosecutor is
not involved in the case and does not financially benefit from the
case,” Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline Secretary Rick Dove said.
The advisory opinion states:
The board’s advisory opinions are
informal and nonbinding and are in response to prospective or
hypothetical questions regarding the application of the Supreme Court
Rules for the Government of the Bar of Ohio, the Supreme Court Rules for
the Government of the Judiciary, the Ohio Rules of Professional
Conduct, the Ohio Code of Judicial Conduct, and the Attorney’s Oath of
part-time prosecutor should be timely screened from the firm’s criminal
defense cases and should not receive a fee from the firm’s criminal
- Lawyers in the elected
part-time prosecutor’s firm may not represent criminal defendants in the
county in which the prosecutor is the elected official.
- The part-time prosecutor should not oppose lawyers from the prosecutor’s firm.
- Other lawyers in the prosecutor’s firm are statutorily-prohibited from accepting court-appointed criminal cases.
board conducts hearings and issues findings and recommendations to the
Supreme Court on ethical misconduct complaints against Ohio attorneys
and judges. The board also engages in efforts to promote a greater
understanding of and compliance with professional ethics standards.
Content courtesy of Court News Ohio.