Attorney removed from case

Conflict of interest between lawyer, man accused of selling cocaine

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The attorney representing a man accused of selling cocaine was removed from the case Tuesday because of a conflict of interest.

Attorney Leslie Goldstein told Routt County Judge James Garrecht last week that she did not feel comfortable representing her client, 42-year-old Jesus Alvarez Frias, because she previously represented another man mentioned in Alvarez Frias' case files.

During a hearing Dec. 13, Garrecht appointed Steamboat Springs attorney Kris Hammond to review Alvarez Frias' case and make a recommendation to the court as to whether a conflict existed in the case.

Hammond told Garrecht on Tuesday that after reading the file and researching rules of professional conduct, he agreed with Goldstein that she should not represent Alvarez Frias.

Alvarez Frias is facing two drug-related cases in Routt County, one of which was bound over to District Court. In that case, Alvarez Frias is charged with distributing a controlled Schedule 2 substance, a Class 3 felony. Alvarez Frias faces harsher penalties in that case because he is suspected of selling the cocaine from his home, which is within 100 feet of Soda Creek Elementary School.

In the case with the attorney conflict of interest, Alvarez Frias is charged with two counts of possessing a controlled Sched-ule 2 substance, both Class 4 felonies.

Goldstein told Garrecht she primarily was concerned with information she received about Alvarez Frias from her former client. She did not think it was ethical to continue representing Alvarez Frias.

"By representing (Alvarez Frias), it creates an appearance of impropriety where the attorney appears torn between two clients," Hammond said.

After Hammond's recommendation, Garrecht appointed attorney Ron Smith to represent Alvarez Frias. He is the third attorney assigned to Alvarez Frias.

Alvarez Frias previously was represented by Heather Turner. Turner was taken off the case when her law license was suspended two weeks ago.

Alvarez Frias is scheduled to appear in court at 1 p.m. Jan. 11 for a review of his case.

-- To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234 or e-mail adelacruz@steamboatpilot.com

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