In Nelson v. State, the supreme court held that a public defender has a conflict of interest disqualifying him from representation when the petitioner raises a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel against another public defender in the same office, and held that a defendant is entitled to conflict counsel immediately after raising such a claim in the context of attempting to withdraw a plea. Represented by attorneys Douglass and Foote in the Dillingham public defender office, Nelson pled guilty to attempted sexual abuse of a minor. Later alleging ineffective counsel, Nelson sought to withdraw his plea and requested that the Public Defender Agency be allowed to withdraw from representation. Attorney Meachum, also from the Dillingham office, subsequently took over representation of Nelson, but the court denied both of Nelson’s requests. Affirming the lower court’s decision, the court of appeals held that deference to the superior court’s discretion was appropriate given Nelson’s inability to assert specifically how he had been incompetently represented. Reversing, the supreme court first noted that Douglass and Foote would have been prohibited from representing Nelson on his withdrawal motion because they would have been required to argue their own ineffectiveness, against their personal interest. Even though Meachum represented Nelson on that motion, the supreme court nevertheless held that there was a significant risk that Meachum’s representation would be materially limited by the interests of Foote and Douglass. Rejecting the case-by-case approach of determining whether one public defender’s conflict is imputed to others in the same office, the court noted that trial judges would have difficulty deciding whether public defenders were detached enough from their colleagues to pursue ineffective counsel claims zealously. Additionally, the court noted that public defenders may feel strong loyalty to individual colleagues, and may fear social or bureaucratic consequences from arguing that a coworker acted incompetently. Thus, the court adopted the per se rule that a mere allegation of ineffective counsel is sufficient to create a conflict of interest, and held that a defendant is entitled to conflict counsel immediately after raising such a claim in the context of attempting to withdraw a plea.
 440 P.3d 240 (Alaska 2019).