Illinois Supreme Court decides no actual conflict of interest existed in dual law school clinic representation.

In this case, two defendants (of four) were represented by different clinical professors from Chicago-Kent college of Law’s criminal clinic. One of them claimed that on direct appeal that the simultaneous representation presented a conflict of interest

The Illinois Supreme Court, citing the U.S. Supreme Court Culyer case, stated that since the conflict issue is being raised post-trial, then the defendant must show an actual conflict of interest governed over the simultaneous representation.

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled that there was no actual conflict, but in doing so overruled their prior holding in the Echols case, the Illinois Supreme Court decided that “[f]irst, *** must demonstrate that some plausible alternative defense strategy or tactic might have been pursued. He need not show that the defense would necessarily have been successful if it had been used, but that it possessed sufficient substance to be a
viable alternative. Second, he must establish that the alternative defense was inherently in conflict with or not undertaken due to the attorney’s other loyalties or interests.” (citing United States v. Fahey, 769 F.2d 829, 836 (1st Cir. 1985).

The Illinois Supreme Court decided there was no other plausible alternate strategy or tactic based on a review of the specific facts of this case.

The case is People v. Miesha Nelson, 2017 IL 120198.

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