Case Details


Filing State



Michigan Circuit Court, 3d Cir., Wayne County Crim. Div.




People v. Waterstone, No. 09-015867-01-AR (Wayne Cty. 3rd Cir. Ct., Crim. Div., Sept. 29, 2009)


Attorney General need not be disqualified because one attorney in the Public Employment, Elections and Tort Division represented defendant in a civil matter which involved the same set of operative facts for which the defendant is currently being prosecuted by the Criminal Division.

Case Description

In the course of drug trafficking trial, the Assistant Prosecuting Attorney allegedly suborned perjury in order to protect the identity of a confidential informant. Judge Waterstone became aware of this perjury and knowingly allowed it to occur. After the defendant was convicted, and the perjury was discovered, defendant sued Waterstone and others, alleging civil rights violations. The General Counsel of the Michigan Supreme Court requested that the Attorney General’s office represent Waterstone, and an AAG from the Public Employment, Elections and Tort Division did so, speaking with Waterstone three times. The case was dismissed. After this, the Attorney General, unaware that Waterstone had already been represented by an AAG in the civil rights case, assigned two attorneys from the office’s Criminal Division to investigate the matter (which was referred to the office because of conflicts in local prosector offices). The Attorney General issued a multi-count felony indictment against Waterstone and others. Waterstone sought to disqualify the Attorney General’s office, claiming that its representation of her in the civil rights case and the current investigation were an inherent conflict of interest. The court first looked at Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct and determined that while the Rules of Professional Conduct apply to the Attorney General’s office, in this case, there was “no knowledge of the previous representation at the time of the criminal investigation of defendant.” When it became known, the criminal division immediately took steps to erect a conflict wall. The attorneys were acting independently from one another and did not exercise authority over each other, were in different divisions, with different chains of command and located in geographically different offices.