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

OPINION 64-36
July 3, 1964

It is proper for an attorney to sign affidavits for a client on formal or procedural matters, even if the client is available locally.

Canons: 19, 22

Chairman Smith stated the opinion of the committee:

A member of The Florida Bar inquires as to the propriety and good judgment of an attorney signing affidavits for a client in connection with legal proceedings, such as affidavits for suit, attachment, garnishment and involuntary petitions in bankruptcy, when the signature of the client is available locally.

Canon 19 prohibits an attorney serving as a witness for his client except as to merely formal matters. Canon 22 requires complete candor and fairness in the conduct of a lawyer before a court and/or with other lawyers. The latter Canon is applicable to preparation of affidavits.

It is the opinion of this Committee that in some instances an attorney may ethically prepare affidavits such as described. This is particularly true when the affidavit relates to matters which are largely formal. Further, there may be some circumstances when the attorney is really the only person qualified to make an affidavit which is pertinent to a particular proceeding. Of course, in all instances, the attorney should have personal knowledge of the matters to which he refers.

Because the inquiry is quite general, the Committee believes that it may be answered in the affirmative as to formal or procedural matters. In other cases, or when there is the slightest doubt, the better and preferable practice would be for the client to execute the document.

[Revised: 08-24-2011]