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Name: In re Charlisse C.
Case #: B194568
Court: CA Supreme Court
District 2 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 04/23/2007
Subsequent History: Rev. granted 7/18/07: S152822

Minor’s attorney was not properly disqualified from successive representation where mother failed to show that information from prior representation of her was shared with counsel for the minor. The Children’s Law Center of Los Angeles (the Center) appealed from an order disqualifying it from representing minor. Minor’s mother had filed a motion to disqualify the Center based upon an alleged conflict of interest. Unit 1 of the Center had previously represented mother when she was a dependent child, and Unit 2 represented the minor’s older sibling. Unit 3 was appointed in this case to represent the minor. The Supreme Court in this opinion reversed the order disqualifying the Center. There was no evidence that any breaches in confidentiality involving the parties occurred in this case. Mother failed to demonstrate a reasonable possibility that confidential information relating to Unit 1’s prior representation of mother would be shared with the child’s current attorney in Unit 3. The issue is not whether there is an appearance of a conflict, or whether the Center’s conduct in the abstract complied with specific safeguards. The issue is whether in the circumstances of this case there was a conflict of interest, and the record here does not reveal one. It had been several years since mother was represented by Unit 1, and no evidence that anything regarding mother’s case had been remembered or discussed. The Center has instituted formal mechanisms designed to prevent the dissemination of confidential client information.