FLORIDA BAR ETHICS OPINION
December 7, 1965
Advisory ethics opinions are not binding.
A lawyer who holds two public positions, one as an assistant state attorney and another as
attorney for the county school board should not participate in either capacity in validation
proceedings for the school board’s revenue certificates, given the legal duty of the state
attorney’s office to challenge the validation petition if appropriate.
Chairman Kittleson stated the opinion of the committee:
A member of The Florida Bar has requested the Committee’s advice on a
possible conflict of interest question. We understand that he holds two public
positions as an attorney, one as an assistant state attorney and another as attorney
for the county school board. The county school board proposes to issue revenue
certificates and in connection therewith to instigate validation proceedings in the
courts. Under the applicable statues, a copy of the petition for validation and the
rule nisi must be served upon the state attorney, who must inquire into the matter
and must present defenses if he believes that the petition is defective, insufficient,
untrue, or not duly authorized. The county school board understands this dual
position and the possibility of conflict, and nevertheless is agreeable to his acting
as attorney for the board in the validation proceedings. He seeks advice on the
ethical propriety of doing so.
The Committee recommends that the lawyer not participate in the validation proceedings
in either of his public capacities. The Committee recognizes that the proceeding may turn out to
be perfunctory and non-controversial and that no public harm may result. But, the Committee
believes, the risk of public misunderstanding is not desirable from either the standpoint of the
legal profession or that of the pertinent public boards and offices. The state attorney’s office, of
which he is a part, has a legal duty to question, challenge, and if necessary oppose the petition
that the school board’s attorney will be advocating.