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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Jun 25, 2013

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Christine Coronado and James S. Wilder, III, Dyersburg, Tennessee, for the Petitioner/Appellant, Casee Wagster Hart.

Attorneys 2:

Robert Kinton, Trenton, Tennessee, and Thomas F. Bloom, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Respondent/Appellee, Randy Lewis.

Judge(s): KIRBY

In this appeal, the mother of the child at issue appeals the trial court’s order establishing paternity. The appellant mother filed this parentage petition against the father. At the outset of the hearing on the petition, the mother’s attorney announced that he had developed a conflict of interest regarding his representation of the mother, because he had previously consulted with both the mother and the father when the parties agreed on the issues. By the time of the hearing, the parties no longer agreed and the father had hired his own attorney. Despite the attorney’s disclosure that he had developed a conflict of interest in continuing to represent the mother, the trial court proceeded with the paternity hearing. What ensued was a procedural train wreck; it ultimately resulted in orders that resolved all issues on their merits. The mother appeals. We conclude that this particular train never should have left the station. In light of the disclosure by the mother’s prior attorney that he had developed a conflict of interest, we vacate everything that followed the attorney’s disclosure, except the order allowing the mother’s attorney to withdraw.