Relationship Between Department of Justice Attorneys and Persons on Whose Behalf the United States Brings Suits Under the Fair Housing Act: Memorandum for Deval L. Patrick, Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division [January 20, 1995]   [open pdf - 31KB]

"We believe that when the Department of Justice undertakes a matter 'on behalf of' a complainant, the Department attorney does not enter into an attorney-client relationship with the complainant. Likewise, when the Department files a pattern or practice case under § 3614, seeking damages on behalf of aggrieved persons, no attorney-client relationship is established with those for whom damages are sought. The structure of the statute compels this conclusion. Congress recognized not only that the government's interests in large measure coincide with those of aggrieved parties, but also -- and importantly for our purposes here -- that the interests of the complainant or aggrieved persons may diverge from that of the government. Such potential divergence of interest would be inconsistent with interpreting the statute as establishing attorney-client relationships between the government and the complainants on whose behalf the Department litigates."

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