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People v. Christian

48 Cal. Rptr. 2d 867 (1996)

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People v. Christian

California Court of Appeal

48 Cal. Rptr. 2d 867 (1996)

Facts

Contra Costa County’s public defender’s office (PD) represented indigent criminal defendants in the county. The alternate defender office (ADO) was created in response to the cost of retaining private attorneys in cases in which the PD had a conflict of interest. The ADO was officially a PD branch but operated autonomously and had a different supervising attorney; separate support staff, investigators, offices, keys, and computers; and a separate library, telephone number, and facsimile machine. The PD did not influence how ADO cases were handled and did not have access to ADO client files or confidences. Ron Christian and Dishon Jackson (defendants) were convicted for offenses related to a restaurant robbery. Christian was represented at trial by the PD; Jackson was represented by the ADO. Before and after trial commenced, Jackson moved for substitute counsel, claiming his ADO lawyer had a conflict of interest. Jackson’s motions were denied. On appeal, Jackson argued that he was denied effective assistance of counsel because he and Christian had potential and actual conflicting interests, and the PD in effect represented both Jackson and Christian without obtaining their consent.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Kline, J.)

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