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Former prosecutors can represent clients prosecuted by former office, says Alabama Ethics Commission

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Former prosecutors can represent clients prosecuted by former office, says Alabama Ethics Commission

Dec 07, 2023 | 5:26 pm ET
By Ralph Chapoco
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Former prosecutors can represent clients prosecuted by former office, says Alabama Ethics Commission
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Justice scales, books and wooden gavel.

Former prosecutors may represent defendants that their former office is prosecuting without violating a two-year ban on representing people with interests before the state, the Alabama Ethics Commission ruled Thursday.

The opinion came in response to two inquiries submitted by Brian Jones, the district attorney for the 39th Judicial District.

The issue deals with a former assistant district attorney who has since left the district attorney’s office who may represent a client in a criminal case that will be prosecuted by the DA in the 39th Judicial Circuit.

The state’s ethics law puts a two-year ban on any former public official or public employee from representing a person in a matter “in which the state is a party or has a direct and substantial interest and in which the former public official or public employee participated personally and substantially as a public official or employee or which was within or under the public official or public employee’s official responsibility as an official or employee.” The section is formally known as a revolving door ban.

Staff presented the Commission with two different opinions in response to Jones’ inquiry. The commission rejected a proposal that would have banned former prosecutors from taking on clients.

“I have extensive experience as an assistant district attorney and as a circuit court judge, involved with the county,” said Lyn Stuart, former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court and vice chair of the Ethics Commission. “I believe draft opinion ‘b’ is a correct interpretation of the Revolving Door provisions of the Ethics Act.”