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Representation of School Board While Serving as County Commissioner

Adopted: July 14, 1989

Opinion rules that attorney may represent the school board while serving as a county commissioner with certain restrictions.

Inquiry #1:

Lawyer L represents the county board of education as its attorney and has recently been elected as a county commissioner. Can Lawyer L or his associate represent the school board? If so, what limitations would Lawyer L have as county commissioner?

Opinion #1:

Lawyer L may represent the school board, as may his associate. Lawyer L should not personally represent the school board in any matter coming before the board of commissioners. Should a matter in which Lawyer L's associate is representing the school board be presented to the board of commissioners for decision, Lawyer L should take the following actions prescribed by CPR 290: 1) disclose in writing or in an open meeting to the board of commissioners his relationship to the matter involved, 2) refrain from an expression of opinion, public or private, on, or any formal or informal consideration of, the matter involved, including any communication or other form of contact with other members or staff of the board of commissioners concerning that matter, 3) absent himself from all meetings of the board of commissioners during any discussion or hearing of the matter and 4) withdraw from all voting on the matter, with or without the consent of the board of commissioners. The foregoing steps should be taken whenever a matter is presented to the board of commissioners in which Lawyer L or any member of his firm has a direct or indirect interest.

Inquiry #2:

Would service as a county commissioner require Lawyer L to restrict his law practice in other ways?

Opinion #2:

Yes. If the board of commissioners is responsible for hiring, firing, promoting or setting the salaries of the county's law enforcement officers, Lawyer L should not represent criminal defendants in cases in which such persons are prosecuting witnesses. CPR 189, 233. Lawyer L's associate would not be so disqualified. CPR 252.

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