The Florida Bar
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PROFESSIONAL ETHICS OF THE FLORIDA BAR

OPINION 63-24
October 23, 1963

A “part-time” city attorney and his assistants may accept various enumerated criminal and civil cases in forums other than the municipal court of the city.

Canon: 6

The Honorable Hugh M. Taylor, a member of the committee, stated the opinion of the committee:

A member of The Florida Bar has advised us that he has been appointed as a city attorney of Tampa; that he has several assistants all of whom and himself are on a “part-time” basis; and he requests the opinion of the Committee on Professional Ethics with respect to three questions which we answer as follows:

1. The first question is:

One Assistant City Attorney will be solely responsible for prosecution of cases in the Municipal Court, assisting the City police officer who has made the charge. Excepting the Assistant who so prosecutes, and his partners and associates, can the City Attorney, any other Assistant City Attorney, or any partner or associate of such attorneys, ethically defend criminal cases in any state or federal court in the State of Florida?

Two members of the Committee would answer this question in the affirmative. That is, that the inquiring member and those members of his staff not handling criminal matters in municipal court may properly and ethically defend criminal cases in any state or federal court in Florida. One member of the Committee feels that he and all members of his staff and their partners and associates should refrain from appearing in any criminal case in any court. One member of the Committee is inclined to the view that the disqualification to act in other criminal cases may be limited to the same community or locality. We are thus unable to give a clear-cut answer to this question. A majority of the Committee does not afford either a clear-cut affirmative or negative answer to the question.

2. The second question is as follows:

Can the City Attorney, any Assistant City Attorney, or any partner or associate of such attorneys, ethically represent clients in civil actions and suits, or before administrative commissioners, boards etc., in civil matters when:

(a) another municipality is involved as an adverse party;

(b) the matter is before an agency of another municipality;

(c) a county, including the one in which the city is located, is
involved as an adverse party;

(d) the matter is before a county commission or agency, including the County Commission and agencies of the county in which the city is located;

(e) the State of Florida, or its agencies, are involved as an adverse party; and

(f) the matter is before an agency of the State of Florida.

All members of the Committee agree this should be answered in the affirmative in its entirety and that none of the suggested activities are in any way improper when engaged in by him or any members of his staff.

3. The third question is as follows:

Can the City Attorney, any Assistant City Attorney, or any partner or associate of such attorneys, ethically represent clients before state or federal agencies, boards or commissions in connection with criminal or quasi-criminal matters which do not involve the municipality in any way?

The Committee is unanimous in answering this question in the affirmative and holding that the suggested activities are entirely proper with the exception that one member of the Committee feels that neither the inquiring lawyer nor any member of his staff should appear before the Parole Commission or the Pardon Board on behalf of a person convicted of a crime.

[Revised: 08-24-2011]