Risk Update

Positional Conflicts — Clashing Arguments and Clients Cause Attorney Disqualification

City Attorney Kicked Off HPD Shooting Lawsuit For Creating A Conflict Of Interest” —

  • “In late October, a city attorney representing three Honolulu police officers argued in court that the officers were not liable for the shooting death of Kyle Thomas because they were acting within the scope of their employment.”
  • “That day, the same attorney, who was also representing the City and County of Honolulu in the same civil rights lawsuit, argued that the case against the city should be thrown out because the officers were not acting within their scope of employment when Thomas, 26, was shot to death in Mililani on Feb. 20, 2019.”
  • “This week, Magistrate Judge Kenneth Mansfield removed that city attorney, Kyle Chang, from the case for creating a conflict of interest.”
  • “‘Mr. Chang divided his loyalties when he asserted conflicting legal positions on behalf of his clients,’ Mansfield wrote on Tuesday in the order disqualifying Chang from the case. ‘The Court thus finds that Mr. Chang cannot reasonably believe that he can provide competent and diligent representation to the City and the Officer Defendants under the particular circumstances of this case.'”
  • “The Department of Corporation Counsel, the chief legal adviser and representative of the city and its agencies, is now reviewing Mansfield’s decision to determine whether another member of the city’s legal department can take over the case or if they will have to retain an attorney from outside of the department.”