The Florida Bar

Ethics Opinion

Opinion 62-52

February 18, 1963
Advisory ethics opinions are not binding.
Judges and lawyers may properly appear on a public service television program
emphasizing cases and subjects of public interest.
Note: Judicial conduct is governed by the Code of Judicial Conduct. The Judicial Ethics
Committee issues opinions interpreting this Code.

27 [See current 4-7.11 and 4-7.18(a)]

Chairman Holcomb stated the opinion of the committee:
A member of The Florida Bar requested the opinion of the Committee on Professional
Ethics on the question of a television channel presenting a public service program involving
courts, judges and lawyers, emphasizing cases and subjects which have the greatest local interest
and which deal in broad principles. He states that there will be three participants consisting of
two lawyers and one moderator. The moderator may be a lawyer, a lay person or a judge. The
moderator will address the viewing audience who will constitute the jury, and will advise them
that the program is not and should not be considered to be a true courtroom case but merely is a
dramatization of an actual case that has been adjudicated and has become final. He will introduce
opposing counsel by name and advise the audience that they are appearing not as lawyers but as
actors best qualified to present the views of each side of the case. He will relate briefly the nature
of the case to be presented, emphasizing the aspects of the case bearing upon the public interest.
Actual names of the parties to the cause will be replaced by fictitious names. The counsel will
address the television audience as though it were in fact the jury and his address a summation.
The judge will render a verdict which will be the verdict that was actually rendered in the case
being dramatized. The programs will not be commercially sponsored.
The member asked:
(1) May lawyers and judges appear on the program, using their proper names?
Our answer to this question is Yes.
(2) May they be identified as judges and attorneys without further reference to their
address or telephone number or other descriptive background material?
Our answer to this question is Yes.
(3) Are lawyers who are employed by the County or State or by a municipality or other
governmental agency bound by any other rules or ethical considerations beyond those which
apply to lawyers generally?

Our answer to this question is that we know of none.
(4) If the programs are commercially sponsored, are any of the questions to be answered
Our answer to this question is No.
One member of the Committee believes that no attorney should participate in any
program of the nature described unless it is presented either by or under the direct supervision of
a committee of the Bar in which non-participating attorneys are able to view the situation
objectively and to so control the presentation that it will reflect as much credit as possible upon
the Bar and Courts without subjecting them to improper criticism.
Another member feels that, if the programs are commercially sponsored, it would be
improper to identify the participants as lawyers or judges, and in any case we should be very
hesitant to approve the facts presented as being actual facts and the actual decision rendered as
one rendered by the courts of Florida.