Risk Update

Texas Conflicts Conflict — DOJ Alleges Lawyer ‘Side Switching’ Conflict, Ethics Violation

Alleging Conflict of Interest, DOJ Seeks to Disqualify Ex-Trump Official From Texas Immigration Lawsuit” —

  • “The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas filed a motion Wednesday asking a federal judge to disqualify Gene Hamilton, a former counsel to the attorney general in the Trump administration, from the case. Hamilton now works for a conservative legal group, America First Legal, which was founded by former Trump senior adviser Stephen Miller in an attempt to stymie the Biden administration’s agenda in the courts.”
  • “The DOJ alleges Hamilton’s participation in the case presents a conflict of interest and violates ethics rules designed to prevent lawyers from ‘switching sides’ and using information gleaned from their government service to benefit private clients.”
  • “‘Hamilton’s prior work in his capacity as a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) attorney creates a conflict of interest that precludes him from representing Texas in this action in a position adverse to the government on those same issues,’ the motion states. ‘The government has discussed this matter with Mr. Hamilton and other counsel for Texas in this lawsuit, but he and his firm have declined to withdraw from the case.'”
  • “The Justice Department is also seeking to have Hamilton’s group, America First Legal, booted from the case because it alleges that the conflict implicates other attorneys at the organization. Another attorney for the group, former Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, is also representing Texas in the case.”
  • “The motion, signed by assistant U.S. attorney Brian Stoltz, alleges that Hamilton’s involvement in the case violates two Texas bar rules: one that prevents attorneys from representing private clients in matters that they were personally involved with while in government, unless they get permission from their former agency. The second bars attorneys who obtain ‘confidential information’ about a person or legal entity while working in government from representing a client adverse to the same person or legal entity.”
  • “While working as counsel to the attorney general, Hamilton was sent several documents, some of which were marked ‘law enforcement sensitive’ about the implementation and enforcement of the CDC’s order, according to the motion.”
  • “The DOJ also alleges that Hamilton, while in government, was involved in discussions about legal strategy to fend off lawsuits challenging the legality of the restrictions. He was given copies of CDC documents discussing the ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ of continuing the order and was sent draft copies of legal briefs that were to be used by the Trump administration in defense of the order, according to the motion.”