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.


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
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 differently?
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.