Case Details



Filing State



Georgia Superior Court




Atlanta Journal and the Atlanta Constitution v. Babush, 364 S.E.2d 560 (Ga. 1988).


No conflict where Attorney General sues state agency for compliance with FOIA request.

Case Description

Attorney general of Georgia sued an agency to force it to comply with an open government law. The agency filed a complaint with the state bar against the Attorney General for representing allegedly conflicting interests as well as a motion to disqualify him from proceeding in his lawsuit. The Georgia Superior Court granted the attorney general’s petition for a writ of prohibition, holding that because the state bar is an administrative arm of the supreme court and thus part of the judicial branch, it must “refrain from pursuing complaints against elected constitutional officers who must be members of the Bar, where the possibility of suspension or disbarment . . . would be the equivalent of impeachment, and thus a violation of the separation of powers.” Soon thereafter, the supreme court of Georgia amended the state bar rules limiting the scope of the term “client” so that it did not include “a public agency or public officer or employee when represented by a lawyer who is a full time public official.” The change by court order was made retroactive, thus disposing of the state bar’s claim that the attorney general was in a conflict of interest in suing his own “client.”