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

OPINION 68-57
January 16, 1969

An attorney may not simultaneously serve as a Public Defender and County Prosecuting Attorney.

Canon: 6

Chairman MacDonald stated the opinion of the committee:

A member of The Florida Bar advises that in the November 1968 general election he was elected Public Defender for his judicial circuit, and he expects to assume that office on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January 1969. At present, he is serving, by appointment of the Board of County Commissioners of his own county (one of several counties within the circuit), as County Prosecuting Attorney. He inquires as to whether he may continue to serve in this capacity as Prosecuting Attorney subsequent to the assumption of his role as Public Defender. He points out that within the county of his residence, because of varying circumstances and the small number of resident lawyers, there would be no one else available to take this position.

We are sympathetic with the plight in which the inquirer finds himself, but note that he obviously voluntarily sought the post of Public Defender and that the position of Public Defender could definitely be filled by an attorney from some other county within the circuit. In any event, it is our strong feeling that there is such a fundamental conflict in these two positions that service in both would clearly contravene Canon 6. Accordingly, the inquirer should make such election as he may be advised, but should not serve in both capacities.

[Revised: 08-24-2011]