State v. Mulatillo

The district court order disqualifying an attorney from representing a criminal defendant, based primarily on speculative evidence of a potential conflict, constituted “an untenable ground for the district court to exercise its discretion.” The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court granting the State’s motion to disqualify attorney Steven Gardner from defending Carlos Ramon Mulatillo on felony drug charges. Less than two weeks before the jury trial was to commence, Mulatillo and Gardner were informed of the name of a confidential informant and the potential conflict of interest between Gardner and this individual. Gardner had previously represented the confidential informant for approximately one month on felony drug charges. After a Watson hearing, the district court concluded that there was a serious potential for a conflict of interest that precluded Gardner from representing Mulatillo. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the evidence provided by the State did not rise to the level of substantial evidence that was necessary to prove that Gardner’s continued representation of Mulatillo created a serious potential for an actual conflict of interest. View "State v. Mulatillo" on Justia Law