IN RESPONSE TO TORRES’ MOTION TO DISQUALIFY
The Office of the Attorney General argues that Gov. Ralph DLG Torres’ motion to disqualify the OAG should be denied because Torres is not and has never been a client of the OAG in his personal capacity, therefore there is no grounds for disqualification.
According to a 26-page opposition filed by OAG chief solicitor Robert Glass, Torres lacks standing to move for the disqualification of the OAG as he, personally, is not a current or former client.
“In order to make a motion to disqualify, the party making the assertion must have standing. Former and current clients have standing to bring a motion; non-clients do not. Here, [Torres] is alleged to have violated Commonwealth laws. Notably, while the color of office is an element, the crime is not alleged against Gov. Torres. To establish standing to even bring this motion, defendant would need to show that he personally is a current or former client of the Office of the Attorney General,” he said.
In this case, Glass said, Torres has failed to establish or show that the attorney general or any assistant attorney general has represented him in his individual capacity.
“Defendant’s allegations in his motion all revolve around the issue that the attorney general represents Gov. Torres in his official capacity. As such, Ralph Torres in his individual capacity as a criminal defendant is not a current or former client, and therefore lacks standing to bring this motion,” he said.
In addition, Glass said Torres has not made any showing that would require disqualification of the entire Office of the Attorney General as appropriate walls have been set up to ensure proper screening and representation in compliance with the Model Rules of Professional Conduct.
“In this case, the attorney general notified Gov. Torres that neither he, nor his assistant attorneys general would represent the governor in the pending House investigation, possible impeachment, or possible Senate trial proceedings, allowing Gov. Torres to seek private counsel because there was a possibility of an investigation and prosecution. Defendant then retained his own counsel for the other proceedings to which the attorney general authorized independent counsel. The actions taken by the attorney general in ensuring walls/screens and independent representation ‘comports with the spirit and purpose of the MRPC,’” he said.
Glass also addressed the arguments made by Torres’ counsel that Torres, in his capacity as governor, is a client of the Office of the Attorney General. However, he clarified that a government employee like the governor must first formally request legal advice or legal services.
“The Office of the Attorney General was established as an independent office within the Executive Branch to be the chief legal officer of the Commonwealth. Pursuant to the constitution, the Office of the Attorney General essentially has two clients: the people of the Commonwealth and the Executive Branch and its employees. The attorney general is responsible for providing legal advice to the governor and executive departments; however, such advice is formally done upon a request for legal services. The elected attorney general is the sole official responsible for carrying out his constitutional and statutory duties,” he said.