- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A California murder suspect might be taking the term “jailhouse lawyer” too literally for the taste of local prosecutors and judges.

Authorities in California’s Central Valley are questioning whether Frank Carson, a prominent Modesto criminal defense lawyer who was arrested last week on murder charges, can continue to represent clients while facing the charges.

Mr. Carson was among eight people arrested Friday in connection with the 2012 disappearance and killing of 26-year-old Korey Kauffman. Mr. Carson faces charges including first-degree murder and investigators believe he coordinated with others to kill Kauffman because he suspected the man was stealing antiques, car parts and other objects from his property.

According to the Modesto Bee, Mr. Carson is currently representing at least 71 clients in Stanislaus County, California, alone — including at least two whom also face murder charges. Prosecutors requested that Mr. Carson be removed as the lawyer in at least one of the murder cases, which was previously expected to go to trial this week.

The Modesto Bee reported that Mr. Carson’s attorney asked the judge presiding over one of the one of the murder cases that he be able to ask Mr. Carson whether he wanted to continue to represent the client. In another case, he reportedly said Mr. Carson was fully prepared to go forward with the case despite currently being held in jail.

It was unclear what action a judge could take to could remove Mr. Carson as the attorney in his cases while he is awaiting trial or even if he was held in custody until the trial.

Laura Ernde, a State Bar of California spokeswoman, said a criminal conviction would be grounds for discipline by the bar.

She noted that state bar prosecutors “have the ability to assume jurisdiction over a law practice if an attorney is incapable of handling clients and there is no other attorney to step in.” However that would require an order by a superior court.

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