RULE 10-4.1 GENERALLY
10 RULES GOVERNING THE INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION OF THE UNLICENSED PRACTICE OF LAW
10-4 CIRCUIT COMMITTEES
RULE 10-4.1 GENERALLY
(a) Appointment and Terms. Each circuit committee shall be appointed by the court on advice of the board of governors and shall consist of not fewer than 3 members, at least one-third of whom shall be nonlawyers. All appointees shall be residents of the circuit or have their principal office in the circuit. The terms of the members of circuit committees shall be for 3 years from the date of appointment by the court or until such time as their successors are appointed and qualified. Continuous service of a member shall not exceed 2 consecutive 3-year terms. A member shall not be reappointed for a period of 1 year after the end of the member’s second term provided, however, the expiration of the term of any member shall not disqualify that member from concluding any investigations pending before that member. Any member of a circuit committee may be removed from office by the board of governors.
(b) Committee Chair. For each circuit committee there shall be a chair designated by the designated reviewer of that committee. A vice-chair and secretary may be designated by the chair of each circuit committee. The chair shall be a member of The Florida Bar.
(c) Quorum. Three members of the circuit committee or a majority of the members, whichever is less, shall constitute a quorum.
(d) Panels. The circuit committee may be divided into panels of not fewer than 3 members, 1 of whom must be a nonlawyer. Division of the circuit committee into panels shall only be upon concurrence of the designated reviewer and the chair of the circuit committee. The 3-member panel shall elect 1 of its members to preside over the panel’s actions. If the chair or vice-chair of the circuit committee is a member of a 3-member panel, the chair or vice-chair shall be the presiding officer.
(e) Duties. It shall be the duty of each circuit committee to investigate, with dispatch, all reports of unlicensed practice of law and to make prompt report of its investigation and findings to bar counsel. In addition, the duties of the circuit committee shall include, but not be limited to:
- (1) exercising final authority to close cases not deemed by the circuit committee to warrant further action by The Florida Bar except those cases to which UPL staff counsel objects to the closing of the case;
- (2) exercising final authority to close cases proposed to be resolved by cease and desist affidavit except those cases to which UPL staff counsel objects to the acceptance of a cease and desist affidavit;
- (3) forwarding to bar counsel for review by the standing committee recommendations for closing cases by a cease and desist affidavit that includes a monetary penalty not to exceed $500 per incident; and
- (4) forwarding to UPL staff counsel recommendations for litigation to be reviewed by the standing committee.
(f) Circuit Committee Meetings. Circuit committees should meet at regularly scheduled times, not less frequently than quarterly each year. Either the chair or vice chair may call special meetings. Circuit committees should meet at least monthly during any period when the committee has 1 or more pending cases assigned for investigation and report. The time, date and place of regular monthly meetings should be set in advance by agreement between each committee and bar counsel.
(g) Recusal. No member of a circuit committee shall perform any circuit committee function when that member:
- (1) is related by blood or marriage to the complainant or respondent;
(2) has a financial, business, property, or personal interest in the matter under consideration or with the complainant or respondent;
(3) has a personal interest that could be affected by the outcome of the proceedings or that could affect the outcome; or
(4) is prejudiced or biased toward either the complainant or the respondent.
Upon notice of any of the above prohibitions the affected members should recuse themselves from further proceedings. The circuit committee chair shall have the power to disqualify any member from any proceeding in which any of the above prohibitions exists and is stated of record or in writing in the file by the chair.