The Florida Bar

October 14, 1960

It is improper for a lawyer who is county prosecutor to defend those accused of crimes even though he does so only in counties or circuits other than the one in which he prosecutes.

Canon: 6
Opinions: ABA 16, 30, 72, 136, 192

Chairman Holcomb stated the opinion of the committee:

The Committee is requested to decide whether a lawyer could ethically represent clients in criminal actions being tried in counties or circuits other than his own.

Drinker on Legal Ethics, page 118, holds that “A county attorney, in charge of prosecuting crimes in his county, should not, while in office, undertake to obtain a pardon for one convicted of crime in his county. . . .” ABA Opinion 136. A public prosecutor in one state may not properly defend a person accused of crime in another state (ABA Opinion 30). A partner of a prosecuting attorney may not defend one accused of crime in another county (ABA Opinions 16, 192). A law firm cannot properly accept any employment which one of its partners cannot properly accept (ABA Opinion 72).

Although there is one dissent, the remainder of the Committee agree that representation of one accused of a crime in another county than his own by a County Prosecutor would be unethical conduct.

[Revised: 08-24-2011]