You Deserve Justice

When someone involved in a court case has a conflict of interest

On Behalf of | May 14, 2024 | Appeals |

Taking a legal matter to court should result in a fair outcome. A judge or jury should attempt to impartially apply the law when determining whether someone committed a crime, handling the decisions in a divorce or evaluating an injury claim.

Occasionally, the circumstances present in the courtroom deny one party an opportunity for justice. If someone involved in the legal process has a conflict of interest related to the case, that could lead to a potential miscarriage of justice. In some cases, uncovering a substantial conflict of interest after an unfavorable outcome to a legal matter could provide someone with the option of pursuing an appeal.

Why are conflicts of interest so concerning?

Different parties involved in legal matters have different responsibilities. Lawyers have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of their clients. Judges and jurors typically have a duty to be neutral and forthcoming about matters that could affect their neutrality. When one of the parties involved in the legal case has a conflict of interest, that can raise questions about the outcome of the case. People acting in their own interests may not properly fulfill their role in the legal process.

What constitutes a conflict of interest?

The conflict of interest could involve having an undisclosed pre-existing relationship with one of the parties involved in the legal matter. Either lawyer, anyone on the jury or the judge may need to advise the courts of that pre-existing relationship to determine if they should continue their involvement or not.

Conflicts of interest can also relate to prior personal experiences and family history. Someone who has been the victim of a certain type of crime or lost a loved one to a similar type of car crash might not be the right party to serve as a juror or judge in a criminal or personal injury case. Financial interests, including personal investments and employment arrangements for family members, could also compromise the neutrality of those involved in a legal matter.

Learning about a significant conflict of interest that may have affected the lawyer’s representation or the conduct of someone who made decisions in a legal case could give someone reason to appeal after experiencing a poor outcome to a legal matter. In this regard, knowledge can, indeed, be power.