What defines a conflict of interest?

You and other California residents deserve professional and ethical representation during the legal process, whether you are involved in a lawsuit, pursuing personal injury damages or defending yourself against criminal charges. You should be able to trust that the attorneys and judges on your case are competent and not biased in a way that could affect the outcome of your trial. Unfortunately, a conflict of interest has the potential to negatively affect your case results.

What exactly is a conflict of interest? Investopedia explains that this is a discrepancy between someone’s professional responsibilities and his or her own interests. A conflict of interest can affect decisions made, which can be disastrous in a legal setting. Some examples of conflicts of interest may include the following:

  • A judge who is friends with an attorney or individual in a lawsuit and may show preference toward this person’s case
  • An attorney who is related to someone on the opposing side and has difficulty representing his or her own client
  • A juror who has strong opinions regarding a topic, such as domestic violence, and is therefore unable to be impartial during a domestic violence trial

Ideally, if there is a conflict of interest in a case, the person with the conflict should step down or you should be given a different representative. You may consider hiring a different attorney, if you believe your attorney has a conflict of interest. Sometimes, however, people are unaware that there was a conflict of interest until their case has been negatively impacted. Since this topic is complex, this post should not substitute for legal advice.