Risk Update

Conflicts News: Criminal Conflicts + Side Switching Accusations

5th Circuit Tosses Conflict-of-Interest Claim Over Dallas Lawyer’s Source of Payment” —

  • “The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has denied a criminal defendant’s arguments that her defense attorney had a conflict of interest from who paid him to represent her. The Monday opinion in United States v. Palacios explained that defendant Gloria Ann Palacios pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute methamphetamine. She argued that her attorney, Dallas criminal defense solo practitioner Mark Fernandez, gave ineffective assistance of counsel because of an alleged conflict of interest.”
  • “In October 2015, Palacios pleaded guilty in her case and said under oath that she was satisfied and had no complaints with Fernandez’s representation…Later, Palacios filed a motion that asserted ineffective assistance based on the alleged conflict, among other grounds. For example, she claimed Fernandez prohibited her from cooperating with the government by giving information about her cousin.”
  • “The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas in Fort Worth denied all of the grounds for relief. The Fifth Circuit granted a certificate of appealability on her conflict-of-interest claim. The Fifth Circuit’s July 1 ruling denied her arguments. It said that when Palacios pleaded guilty in her case, she waived her conflict-of-interest claim. She had many opportunities to speak up about it before, and never did so.”

Carlton Fields Switched Sides In Transaction, Suit Says” —

  • “The trustee of a bankrupt title insurance company has filed a suit in Florida state court against Carlton Fields accusing the law firm of sending the company into insolvency by setting up a joint venture then jumping ship to represent the company’s partner.”
  • “…liquidating trustee Daniel Stermer accused Carlton Fields of breaching its fiduciary duty to ATIF Inc. by advising it to enter into a joint venture that ultimately resulted in Old Republic National Title Holding Company taking control of nearly all of its assets, then taking on Old Republic as a client without dropping ATIF.”
  • “‘Incredibly, after representing ATIF for the amended JV agreement, Carlton Fields switched sides and decided to represent Old Republic in connection with the master agreement while still concurrently representing ATIF,’ he said.”
    “Carlton Fields spokeswoman Kate Barth said the firm has acted within its ethical and fiduciary duties in a statement.”