Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Kennedy v. Eldridge (Cal. Ct. App. - Dec. 13, 2011)

Can a grandfather represent his son in a child custody case in which the son seeks custody of the infrant grandchild?  What about if the grandfather previously represented the father of the adverse party (the grandchild's mother)?  What about if the grandfather is also a witness, with exhaustive knowledge of the underlying events?

Not surprisingly, the answer is no.

I get where the grandfather is coming from.  He wants to protect his child (and his grandchild).  He knows -- or at least thinks he knows -- that he can do that better than anyone else, and can give his son better representation than anyone else.  And he's certainly right that he can do so at a lower cost than any nonconflicted attorney.  Something that's especially important in family law cases, where the alternative is often no legal representation whatsoever.

But still, the Court of Appeal is right that the trial court acted well within its discretion here.  There are simply too many problems that might result from the representation to say that the trial court erred.