Brown v. D.C. Bd. of Zoning Adjustment

486 A.2d 37 (D.C. 1984)

 

RULE:

Model Code of Prof'l Responsibility DR 9-101(B) provides that a lawyer shall not at any time accept private employment in connection with any matter in which he or she participated personally and substantially as a public officer or employee, which includes acting on the merits of a matter in a judicial capacity. Matter includes any judicial or other proceeding, application, request for a ruling or other determination, contract, claim, controversy, investigation, charge, accusation, arrest or other particular matter involving a specific party or parties. 

FACTS:

Petitioner individuals challenged the decision of the Board of Zoning Adjustment (Board), which upon remand, concluded that the disqualification of the intervenors' attorneys was not required in an underlying civil action. The Board argued that a firm that represented a client in proceedings before the board should have been disqualified because two of its members had previously represented the board in the same matter. The board specifically claimed that the attorneys violated Model Code of Prof'l Responsibility DR 9-101 (B) by accepting private employment in a matter for which they had substantial responsibility while in government. The court found that the prior representation was not substantially related to the underlying litigation. It affirmed the board's decision not to disqualify the attorneys or the firm. 

ISSUE:

Did two former attorneys for the District of Columbia violate the Model Code of Prof'l Responsibility by accepting private employment in a "matter" for which they had substantial responsibility while in government?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

Even if the attorneys' had been prohibited from representing a particular party, other attorneys in their firm could have handled the case if the attorneys had been properly screened. 

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