Private Practice Conflicts for Civilian Police Review Board Chair

Richard Emery, a name partner in a well-known New York City law firm, is also Chairman of New York City’s Civilian Complaint Review Board, which investigates complaints against police officers.  The New York Daily News reports that the City’s Conflict of Interest Board permitted him to “keep his name on the firm’s shingle, and [granted him] a ‘waiver’ allowing his firm to represent plaintiffs in lawsuits against the City.”  A spokesman for the CCRB added that “Mr. Emery recuses himself from any matters in which the firm represents a party associated with the CCRB,” but the Daily News reports that “[n]either the Conflicts Board, nor Emery, would provide a copy of the waiver.” Although the Board may have been applying government ethics law, Emery’s recusal from matters involving his firm would appear to satisfy Rule 1.11 (d).  Similarly, his law firm’s representation of plaintiffs who formerly had matters before the CCRB would appear to satisfy Rule 1.11 (a)(2) so long as “the appropriate government agency gives its informed consent, confirmed in writing,” as happened here.  Note that the language of the Rule 1.11 refers to former government officers but the comment expressly includes current government officers with regard to former matters.  In addition, even without consent, Rule 1.11(b) would permit the representation so long as Emery is timely screened, and the agency receives timely notice.

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