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