Excellent Oral Argument on Lawyer Disqualification

I’ve been following this case closely because the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers submitted an amicus brief on behalf of the Appellant.  In a nutshell, the trial court disqualified the former DeKalb School Superintendant’s law firm where there actually was no conflic; rather, there was the speculative potential for a conflict where the clients had waived a conflict in writing. We were alarmed about the precedent that could be set if prosecutors could freely choose their opposition.

Today was the oral argument before the Georgia Court of Appeals. The Fulton Daily Report covered it, and Oral argument is available on video of today’s session. Beyond the fact that the issue is important, it is worth taking a look simply to see good appellate advocacy from Bernard Taylor. Here are three things I particularly enjoyed watching.

  • Time Management. Mr. Taylor managed his time well. He had his argument prepared and was able to get his main points out. He reserved plenty of time for a well-developed rebuttal and for the Court to ask questions.
  • Strength of Argument. Mr. Taylor struck a nice balance between the scholarly tone necessary for appellate argument with the passion necessary for a case with issues like these.
  • Answers to Hypotheticals. Appellate judges often warn lawyers away from the “those aren’t the facts of this case” response to hypotheticals. Mr. Taylor almost gives that answer at one point, but he does so by reference to law that conflict/disqualification isses are fact intense and unique. He then acknowledges that, under the hypthetical as framed, there might be “issues.” He struck a nice balance.

It is truly great that such a strong advocate is representing the Appellant in this important case.

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