Legal Ethics Opinion #1570

Confidences and Secrets--Government Attorney: Former Assistant
Commonwealth's Attorney Representing Former Victim Against Former
Witness in Case Prosecuted by Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney

You have presented a hypothetical situation in which a former
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney is now in private practice. 
While employed as an Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney, the
lawyer was involved in a case with future civil suit
possibilities.  The attorney, now in private practice, would like
to pursue the civil action.  The action does not involve the
former victim against the former defendant.  Rather, you indicate
that the action involves the victim and a third party, who was a
witness in the Commonwealth's case. 

You have asked the committee to opine whether, under the facts of
the inquiry, it is improper for a former Assistant Commonwealth's
Attorney to represent a former victim against a former witness
for the Commonwealth, when the Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney
prosecuted the original criminal case.

The appropriate and controlling Disciplinary Rules related to
your inquiry are  DR 4-101(B), which provides for the
preservation of client confidences and secrets; and  DR 9-101(B),
which states that a lawyer shall not accept private employment in
a matter in which he had substantial responsibility while he was
a public employee unless the public entity by which he was
employed consents after full disclosure.

The committee opines that it would not be improper, under DR 9-
101(B), for the former Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney to
represent the former victim in the current civil suit provided
that: (1) the government, i.e., the Commonwealth's Attorney who
formerly employed the Assistant, consents to the representation
after full disclosure; and (2) prior contacts with the victim did
not involve the purpose of obtaining professional employment. 
See Maryland State Bar Association Ethics Opinion 88-8 (9/28/87),
901:4312, ABA/BNA Law. Man. on Prof. Conduct.
Committee Opinion
December 14, 1993