CARSON CITY, Nev. (CN) – A state court was wrong to bar a Reno attorney from representing his father in a divorce against his mother, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled.
No law bans family members from representing other family members, the high court ruled, finding that Washoe County District Court “manifestly abused its discretion” by disqualifying attorney Mark Liapis.
The lower court said Liapis was likely to be called as a witness in the divorce between his parents, Theodore and Marie Liapis.
Marie Liapis sought to disqualify her son as a potential witness, claiming he had a conflict of interest, and that his “pecuniary interest in their estate created an appearance of impropriety.”
She also claimed there was an “inherent conflict of interest” because it was unclear how he would “zealously represent ” his dad while he professed “to still love both his parents.”
But the justices determined that she failed to show that her son had a financial interest that would require his removal, and “(t)hus, while a child’s decision to represent one of his or her parents in a divorce proceeding may appear unusual, we conclude that Marie’s argument lacks merit,” Justice James Hardesty wrote for the court.
The court also sited several Nevada Rules of Professional Conduct that allow a lawyer to represent a family member, and that no rule prohibits the son from representing his father.