This is an appeal by the State, represented by special counsel on behalf of the County Attorney of Maricopa County, from an order quashing a grand jury indictment. The indictment alleging some 28 counts was returned against the appellees and others, charging various crimes, including theft by false pretenses, embezzlement and perjury. These charges arose from the collapse of the Union Title Company.
Three years later while employed as a deputy county attorney in the County Attorney's office, this attorney was assigned by his superiors to work on a case involving his former employer, Mr. Broadman, and the two previously mentioned clients. The young attorney discussed the matter in January of 1966 with his superior, the County Attorney, and they resolved that he had no reason not to undertake the presentation before the grand jury. On June 9, 1966, the grand jury returned an indictment containing some 17 counts against Broadman, Fogel, Daniels and two other defendants. On August 26, 1966, a motion to quash the indictment was filed and was granted on September 12, 1966. The motion was directed to the entire indictment, and although made by only one of the defendants, it was stipulated that the ruling should govern the other four defendants as well.
The principal question involved is whether the granting of the motion to quash was proper on the basis of the showing of a possible conflict of interest on the part of the deputy county attorney who acted as prosecutor in the grand jury investigation. To sustain the trial court's action we first must find there existed a confidential relationship between the two clients of Mr. Broadman and the attorney who worked in his office. Secondly, we must find that this relationship disqualified the attorney from prosecuting the clients before the grand jury, and third, that the prosecution by a disqualified attorney gives ground for quashing the indictment.
With reference to the first question, the conduct of an attorney in regard to his clients' confidential communications is rigidly regulated by the Canons of Professional Ethics of the American Bar Association which have been adopted in this state by Supreme Court Rule 29(a), 17 A.R.S. Canon 6 prohibits an attorney from representing conflicting interests unless full consent has been expressed by all concerned. It further forbids the subsequent acceptance of employment from others in matters adversely affecting any interest about which the client has disclosed information to the attorney. Canon 37, in setting out the duty of the lawyer to preserve his client's confidences, provides in part as follows:
It is clear that the County Attorney's office, in passing over the potential conflict of interest problem after it had been brought to their attention, took the Canons of Professional Ethics too lightly.
A fine example of what an attorney should do when faced with a conflict of interest problem is contained in the case of State v. Garaygordobil, 89 Ariz. 161, 359 P.2d 753 (1961). In that case when a city attorney for Nogales was faced with a conflict of interest problem he discussed the matter with other attorneys in the area; he informed the mayor and council of the problem, and sought the opinion of the
In the instant case the deputy county attorney consulted only his superiors and they, without outside opinions, incorrectly decided that no harm would come in allowing the deputy to prosecute the case. Even if there were no real danger of prejudice to the principals involved, the jeopardy to the standing of the Bar should have dictated a more cautious course. We agree with the trial court's findings that the deputy county attorney's acts and conduct were in good faith and without intent to harm the former client or employer, however we likewise believe that even though there might not have appeared to them a real danger of prejudice to the defendants, it was nonetheless inappropriate.
The State Bar of Arizona, through its Committee on Ethics, has stated that the mere appearance of a possible conflict is to be condemned. See Opinion No. 190, Arizona State Bar Committee on Rules of Professional Conduct. In State v. Leigh, 178 Kan. 549, 289 P.2d 774 (1955), the Court was confronted with a similar situation. The nominee for County Attorney was contacted by a defendant involved in criminal charges. He consulted with the defendant on two occasions and then after being elected County Attorney undertook to prosecute the defendant in a case involving the matter which he had discussed previously with defendant. The Court therein stated:
In the matter before us it appears that while employed by the attorney for two of the defendants, the deputy county attorney had knowledge of some of the facts contained in the indictment and of information necessary for the indictment. Therefore he was ethically bound to step aside when the prosecution of these defendants was before the County Attorney's office.
Having determined that there exists a confidential relationship and conflict of interest which disqualifies the deputy county attorney, we now turn to the final question of whether the presentation of evidence before the grand jury by the disqualified deputy gives grounds for quashing the indictment.
Appellant urges that even if the deputy county attorney had a potential or even a real conflict of interest, the Rules of Criminal Procedure do not allow the quashing of an indictment for such a reason. The pertinent portions of the rules involved are: Rule 169, Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure, 17 A.R.S., which provides as follows:
Rule 98, Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure concerning grand jury, which provides:
The thrust of appellant's contention is that by Rule 169 a motion to quash is available only on certain grounds, none of which obtain in the instant case; specifically, that subsection A(2)(b) of Rule 169 requires the presence of the attorney "while the grand jurors were deliberating or voting" of which there is no evidence, and further, that there is equally no evidence that the defendant was in fact prejudiced to come within the requirement of the clause of the section that there be "reasonable cause to believe that the defendant was in fact prejudiced thereby."
Although we might agree that our Supreme Court has held that the grounds set forth in Rule 169 for the quashing of an indictment or information are exclusive and that upon a strict construction of these rules the precise conditions of either of the rules cited may not have obtained, we cannot, however, agree to the strict construction and that the trial court has committed error.
We are governed by certain fundamental rules of law which provide that a defendant must be given a fair and impartial hearing. Arizona Constitution, Article
The cases of late holding that equal protection and due process guarantees must be rigidly observed are clear in holding that a state electing to use the grand jury procedure must furnish an unbiased grand jury and present the evidence to the grand jury in a fair and impartial manner. Our Supreme Court, in following this trend, recently in State v. Superior Court In And For The County Of Pima, 102 Ariz. 388, 430 P.2d 408 (1967), upheld a Superior Court ruling which quashed a grand jury indictment on the basis that there was ground for a challenge to the panel.
In State v. Superior Court, supra, the judge calling the grand jurors failed to ask the questions required by A.R.S. § 21-201, touching upon their qualifications to serve as jurors. The defense, as in the instant case, urged that the Court's failure was not a ground set out in Rule 169. Specifically, that the failure to qualify the jury did not come within the wording of Subsection A(2)(a) which reads:
The Supreme Court then considered Rule 84, Rules of Criminal Procedure, which reads:
and by giving a broad meaning to the word "selected", citing authority, held that the failure to properly qualify the jurors gave a basis for the challenge to the panel and thus came within the grounds set out in Rule 169, subd. A(2) (a).
Approaching the instant problem in the same manner, we would find a parallel result. Rule 98 provides that "[n]o person shall be present at the sessions of the grand jury except" and then goes on to name the deputy county attorney and others as permitted parties. It is the interpretation of this sentence upon which the case turns. We hold that the deputy county attorney, being disqualified to prosecute or present matters to the grand jury by virtue of his conflict of interest, was an unauthorized person at the sessions of the grand jury. Ordinarily, the deputy is permitted before sessions of the grand jury; in this case, however, because of the conflict of interest he is disqualified and prohibited from acting in the matters involving his former clients and therefore not a party to be permitted in the sessions as contemplated by the rule. He becomes in contemplation of law a person unauthorized to appear before the grand jury and within the exclusion of Rule 98. In State v. Superior Court, supra, the interpretation of Rule 84 was the foundation, so to speak, of the motion to quash. In our case, the interpretation of Rule 98 furnishes the foundation.
There is an abundance of authority holding that a prosecutor having a conflict of interest because of prior employment with the defendant is a person unauthorized to be present in the grand jury room. Maley v. District Court Of Woodbury County, 221 Iowa 732, 266 N.W. 815 (1936) (overruled on other grounds in Uhl v. District Court In And For Monona County, 231 Iowa 1046, 2 N.W.2d 741 (1942)); Coblentz v. State, 164 Md. 558, 166 A. 45, 88 A.L.R. 886 (1933); State v. Rocker, 130 Iowa 239, 106 N.W. 645 (1906); and State v. Detroit Motors 62 N.J.Super. 386, 163 A.2d 227 (1957). The Maley case, supra, sets forth the basic proposition involved, that when a prosecutor by his conduct disqualifies himself to act he has no right to appear before the grand jury and is therefore wholly unauthorized. It is further stated that it is not necessary that his participation be corrupt or that unfair means be used. If his participation was unauthorized, the proceeding was unlawful. There is a lack of due process of law and a failure of a fair hearing when evidence is presented to a grand jury by an unauthorized person acting as a prosecuting attorney when such person has confidential information concerning the persons against whom the evidence is being presented. The injury is not limited to the defendant — there is injury to the system, to the law as an institution, to the community at large, and to the democratic ideal reflected in the processes of our courts. A person accused of a crime, to be entitled to due process, does not have to show that he would be injured if due process is lacking. The right to be tried in accordance with the law is the constitutional privilege of every man. State v. Madison, 240 Md. 265, 213 A.2d 880 (1965); Ballard v. United States, 329 U.S. 187, 67 S.Ct. 261, 91 L.Ed. 181 (1946). Also appropriate are the following quotations from Coblentz, supra:
In view of the pronouncements of our courts making it violative of due process to admit unauthorized persons before sessions of the grand jury, which we find the evidence in the case shows, and of the construction to be placed on the Rules of Criminal Procedure as announced by our Supreme Court, we find no error.
CAMERON, C.J., and STEVENS, J., concur.