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Commonwealth v. Dwayne Brown 2009 PA Super 69 (4/15/2009)

Topic: PCRA-Ineffective Assistance of Counsel – Conflict of Interest

Summary: Although dual representation does not create an automatic conflict of interest, an attorney who attempts to represent multiple parties must obtain the defendants’ consent before attempting dual representation. Further, the fact that one of the co-defendants received a more lenient sentence does not mean that a conflict of interest did not exist.

Illustration: An attorney represented Brown and his co-defendant for the entries of their guilty pleas. The attorney did not inform Brown that she was representing the co-defendant. At the sentencing, Brown received a more lenient sentence than his co-defendant. Although the trial court concluded that Brown’s lenient sentence showed that there was no conflict, the Superior Court concluded that a conflict of interest may have existed (but noted that the record was insufficient to make a determination of whether there was a conflict).