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OBA Ethics Counsel

Ethics Opinion No. 138

Adopted September 17, 1937

The Board is in receipt of the following inquiry:

"Where an attorney at law, while serving as the county attorney of his county, prosecuted a bastardy proceeding which was settled and determined by the marriage of the complainant and defendant, may the attorney, after the expiration of his term of office, accept employment as attorney for the plaintiff in a suit for divorce brought by the wife, who was the complainant in the bastardy proceeding, against the husband, who was the defendant therein; or would the acceptance of employment under such circumstances constitute a violation of Rule 38 of the Rules of Professional Conduct of the State Bar, or of any other rule governing the professional conduct of attorneys?"

In response:

From the limited facts in the inquiry as to the matters involved in the divorce suit, the answer to this question is not obvious. If the divorce proceedings involve matters wholly dissociated from the bastardy proceedings, the principles laid down in advisory opinion 127, (page 161, Nov. 1936 Bar Journal) apply. If, however, the facts involved in the divorce case are associated with facts investigated in the bastardy case the interdiction of rule 38 does apply and it would follow that the inquirer may not accept the employment.