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

OPINION 65-72
December 7, 1965

A lawyer who holds two public positions, one as an assistant state attorney and another as attorney for the county school board should not participate in either capacity in validation proceedings for the school board's revenue certificates, given the legal duty of the state attorney's office to challenge the validation petition if appropriate.

Canon: 6

Chairman Kittleson stated the opinion of the committee:

A member of The Florida Bar has requested the Committee's advice on a possible conflict of interest question. We understand that he holds two public positions as an attorney, one as an assistant state attorney and another as attorney for the county school board. The county school board proposes to issue revenue certificates and in connection therewith to instigate validation proceedings in the courts. Under the applicable statues, a copy of the petition for validation and the rule nisi must be served upon the state attorney, who must inquire into the matter and must present defenses if he believes that the petition is defective, insufficient, untrue, or not duly authorized. The county school board understands this dual position and the possibility of conflict, and nevertheless is agreeable to his acting as attorney for the board in the validation proceedings. He seeks advice on the ethical propriety of doing so.

The Committee recommends that the lawyer not participate in the validation proceedings in either of his public capacities. The Committee recognizes that the proceeding may turn out to be perfunctory and non-controversial and that no public harm may result. But, the Committee believes, the risk of public misunderstanding is not desirable from either the standpoint of the legal profession or that of the pertinent public boards and offices. The state attorney's office, of which he is a part, has a legal duty to question, challenge, and if necessary oppose the petition that the school board's attorney will be advocating.

[Revised: 08-24-2011]