WILKES-BARRE – An attorney for the county in a lawsuit filed by former chief public defender Al Flora has filed court papers asking that Flora’s attorneys be removed from the case, citing professional misconduct.
Attorney John Dean said in court papers filed Tuesday that Flora’s attorneys should be dismissed for violating the state Rules of Professional Conduct and contacting potential plaintiffs in the case.
Flora filed the suit in April 2012, claiming the Public Defender’s Office was so underfunded and understaffed it could not provide adequate defense to indigent clients. The situation had become so dire, Flora argued, he was compelled to limit the type of cases the office would accept. That left more than 300 defendants to face charges without an attorney as the county failed to provide an alternate source of legal representation, according to the lawsuit.
Several new plaintiffs were recently added to the suit, and the county filed its preliminary objections to have the suit dismissed in recent days.
Dean said in a filing Tuesday that, after much consideration, the county decided to make the request to have Flora’s attorneys removed because they contacted potential plaintiffs already represented by the county Public Defender’s Office.
Dean calls the actions “serious and egregious ethical violations” and notes state law says: “A lawyer shall not solicit in person or by intermediary professional employment from a prospective client with whom the lawyer has no family or prior professional relationship when a significant motive for the lawyer’s doing so is the lawyer’s pecuniary gain.”
County Senior Judge Joseph Augello scheduled a hearing for Oct. 8 to consider Dean’s request and hear from Flora’s attorneys, lead by Kimberly Borland.