The Florida Bar
www.floridabar.org
PROFESSIONAL ETHICS OF THE FLORIDA BAR

OPINION 67-42
January 8, 1968

A member of The Florida Bar may participate in a program sponsored by the St. Petersburg Legal Secretaries Association and sanctioned by the Bar Association of St. Petersburg as a portion of the annual “Days in Court” project of the Legal Secretaries Association.

Canon: 27

Chairman MacDonald stated the opinion of the committee:

Confirming the previous informal opinion given by the Chairman of the Committee, the Committee finds no impropriety in a program sponsored by the St. Petersburg Legal Secretaries Association and sanctioned by the Bar Association of St. Petersburg as a portion of the annual “Days in Court” project of the Legal Secretaries Association. The project is more fully described in the attached extract from the inquiry:

I am an honorary member of the St. Petersburg Legal Secretaries Association and chairman of their “Days in Court” annual project. This year, we have expanded this program from a single “Day in Court” presentation to a rather extensive week-long series of activities. This organization will sponsor different stimulating live action court programs each day in the Pinellas County Building during the noon hour. These programs are being designed and used as public information and education programs that will be open to the general public as well as the legal profession. Members of the St. Petersburg Bar Association are supporting and assisting in this project. In addition to the attorneys who will be appearing as adversaries against each other in these moot court programs, there will be both attorneys and judges who will be participating as fictitious witnesses.

The following is a resume of the events and participants of the week:

November 27 — Monday — Criminal prosecution of a bad check charge.

November 28 — Tuesday — Inquiry into the mental competency of a person.

November 29 — Wednesday — Contested adoption of a minor child.

November 30 — Thursday — Divorce: contest on alimony, child support, financial and property problems.

December 1 — Friday — “Open Door Day,” all
administrative and judicial offices in the Pinellas County Building will have their doors open between 11:30 and 12:00 noon and there will be legal secretaries and administrative personnel available for questions and answers regarding the operation of each respective office.

In addition to the foregoing, there will be a special television production based upon an actual manslaughter case which occurred in Pinellas County which will be videotaped on November 18 and said tape will be shown on WLCY-TV on Thursday, November 30, between 10:00 and 11:00 p.m. The program is entitled “A Race to Judgment” and it involves two adults who are illegally drag racing and, during the course of the race, one of the racing vehicles collides at an intersection with another vehicle occupied by a bride and bridegroom. The bride is killed as well as the operator of the racing vehicle. The second racing vehicle did not impact or collide in any way. The operator of the second vehicle is the defendant being tried for manslaughter on the theory of conspiracy to commit an unlawful act, i.e., drag racing on a highway, and therefrom, death resulted. Judge Victor O. Wehle will preside.

Clair A. Davis, State Attorney in and for the Sixth Judicial Circuit will prosecute, Robert F. Nunez, former Assistant United States Attorney in Tampa, and presently private practitioner in St. Petersburg, will defend. A “Blue Ribbon” jury has been selected, composed of The Honorable Don Jones, Mayor of St. Petersburg, Daniel O'Connor, District Manager of General Telephone, James Hendry, Manager of the St. Petersburg AAA Motor Club, Arthur Anderson, President, Florida National Bank, Mrs. C. R. Ruth Woodfill, prominent club woman, and Mrs. David (Virginia) Ellis, Courthouse reporter for the St. Petersburg Times. There will be a controlled audience for the video-taping composed of members of the St. Petersburg Legal Secretaries Association and their families, members of the Legal Secretary classes at St. Petersburg Junior College, students from Stetson University College of Law, students from the Police Academy in St. Petersburg, members of all levels of the judiciary in Pinellas County, and other members of the legal profession. This videotape, after its showing on television on Thursday evening, November 30th, will be donated to Stetson University College of Law for use in its trial practice course, at a special presentation on December 6th during the “Inns of Court Program.” The television time for this production is being donated as a public service by WLCY-TV and payment for the videotape film itself is being donated by the Florida National Bank of St. Petersburg.

In summary, the questions that I posed to you this morning involve the identification and utilization of the real names of the judges and attorneys who will appear in this public information and education project. In the past, legal forums have been conducted in this community as a public service open to the public, and the same have been also specially televised. I, myself, have participated in these programs. At these times and on these occasions, the identity of the attorneys participating were disclosed to the audiences as well as the fact that the participants were attorneys. It is my position that there is no significant distinction between our project and these other public information and educational endeavors.

[Revised: 08-24-2011]