The Florida Bar

March 18, 1966

An assistant state attorney should not, as a private practitioner, represent a husband in a divorce suit when the state attorney's office has brought support proceedings in behalf of the wife against the husband.

Canon: 6

Chairman Kittleson stated the opinion of the committee:

A member of The Florida Bar has requested the Committee's advice on the question discussed below. Under existing policies of the Board of Governors, the Committee may give advice only to Florida lawyers concerning their own present or proposed conduct; in other words, the Committee cannot give advice concerning the conduct of a third party but only that of the inquiring lawyer himself. We assume that this inquiry falls within the policy stated above.

We are presented with the following question. A lawyer engaged in private practice also holds public office as an assistant state attorney, which is only a part-time position. Under the Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Law, F.S. 88.011 (1965), which is effective in Florida, each state attorney has certain statutory responsibilities, and in a proper case he may be obligated to represent an out-of-state wife against a resident husband. The question is whether an assistant state attorney, in his capacity as a private practitioner, may properly represent a husband in a divorce suit against a wife, where the state attorney (for whom the first lawyer is an assistant) has brought support proceedings in behalf of the wife against the husband, pursuant to the statute.

The Committee believes that the lawyer should decline such a representation, because of the substantial risk of justified public misunderstanding.

[Revised: 08-24-2011]