The Florida Bar

March 27, 1972

It is improper for members of a law firm to represent litigants in personal injury actions arising out of automobile accidents investigated and charged by municipal police when one member of the firm is employed by the municipality to prosecute violations of the municipality's ordinances.

Opinion: 70-11

Committeeman Kittleson stated the opinion of the committee:

A municipality employs a lawyer on a part-time basis to prosecute in municipal court violations of the municipality's ordinances. The lawyer also engages in private practice as a member of a law firm. The members of the law firm ask whether the firm, or any member of it, may represent litigants claiming or defending claims for personal injury damages arising out of automobile accidents within the municipality, when the municipal police have investigated the accidents and made charges.

The Committee advises against such representation by the firm or any member of it, even though the police charges have been disposed of or have been transferred out of the municipal court to a criminal court of record or other non-municipal court.

The effect of a lawyer's position as a part-time judge or prosecutor upon his private practice has presented difficult questions of professional ethics and responsibility, with which the committee has been previously concerned. See Florida Opinion 70-11 [since withdrawn]. We believe that the advice now given is consistent with our prior expressions.

[Revised: 08-24-2011]