SBM - State Bar of Michigan


March 18, 1983


    It is improper for an assistant prosecuting attorney employed in one county to represent respondents charged in criminal cases in other counties of this state.

    References: MCPR DR 8-101; Op 193.


An assistant county prosecutor wishes to defend a sibling on a criminal charge of littering being prosecuted in the district court by the county prosecutor's office.

Op 193 concluded that it is improper for a prosecuting attorney of one county to represent defendants in criminal cases in other counties of this state. A lawyer holding public office to simultaneously engage in the private practice of law, however, MCPR DR 8-101 admonishes the public official not to use the public position to obtain, or attempt to obtain, a special advantage on behalf of a client or otherwise use his or her public position to influence, or attempt to influence, an adjudicatory body to act favorably on behalf of a client.

The Prosecutor's Office has discretion to bring formal criminal charges against an individual and further, has the power to withdraw those charges. The primary duty of a prosecutor is to represent the interests of the public which necessarily involves the cooperation and assistance of prosecuting authorities in counties throughout the state. If a prosecutor in one county could serve as defense counsel in another county, it is likely that a dismissal of the charge may be regarded as a form of professional courtesy contrary to the best interests of the public and the proper enforcement of criminal jurisprudence.