Judge David Kirschner
Pagan was charged with assault, among other things, after he allegedly pushed Smith and hit him with a wooden stick to the back of the head. Attorney Morgan, from The Bronx Defenders (TBD), was assigned to represent Pagan. Months later Smith was arrested and charged with assaulting his wife and an attorney from TBD was assigned to represent him. Before the parties appeared on Pagan’s case, prosecutors learned, and informed the court of the simultaneous representation, contending it was a conflict of interest, and thus, sought to have TBD relieved on Pagan’s case. TBD moved, and were granted relief from Smith’s case, but claimed no conflict existed in remaining on Pagan’s case as Morgan obtained no confidential information about Smith from TBD’s records on his case. The court stated in an organization the size of TBD information did not flow as freely as in a private firm. Thus, knowledge was not ascribed to each attorney, and a finding no conflict of interest was established. The court also noted the instant matter and Smith’s case were materially unrelated, an ethical wall was built between the cases at TBD, and the Rules of Professional Conduct did not warrant TBD be relieved as Pagan’s counsel. Thus, prosecutors’ motion was denied.