LEO: Conflict of Interest - Hearing LE Op. 987

 

Conflict of Interest - Hearing Officers.

 

October 29, 1987

 

An attorney is a member of the local human rights committee (LHRC) at a

certain Virginia treatment center. The LHRC reviews complaints by patients

and advises the director of the facility as to action which should be

taken to correct violations of rights of patients. The attorney also

represents patients of the center in special education proceedings and

commitment hearings. The attorney presently represents two patients of the

center, one in a commitment proceeding and the other in a civil case in

circuit court. Neither the center, any employees of the center, nor the

LHRC are parties in the cases. The attorney will not sit as a member of

the LHRC on any complaint brought by any present or former client.

 

The State Board of Mental Health and Retardation is a state regulatory

board (Code of Va. 2.1-20.4). That board appoints a state human rights

committee which in turn appoints the local human rights committee. The

committee can only presume that the LHRC must be considered a state agency

regulatory board (SARB) as set forth in LE Op. 847.

 

It is not improper, given the above, for the attorney to represent the

two clients while serving as a member of the LHRC. From the facts provided,

it does not appear that the two cases which the attorney is presently

handling are substantially related to those which the attorney would

consider as a member of the LHRC.

 

The committee does advise that a potential for conflict may exist with

future individuals which the attorney represents. [See also LE Op. 847]

 

Committee Opinion October 29, 1987