FLORIDA BAR ETHICS OPINION
January 5, 1966
Advisory ethics opinions are not binding.
The law partner of an assistant state attorney may not engage in criminal defense practice.
ABA 16, 30, 33, 49, 50, 72, 142, 186
Chairman Kittleson stated the opinion of the committee:
Under prevailing policies established by The Florida Bar Board of Governors, the
Committee on Professional Ethics is not allowed to give opinions to local bar associations or
local grievance committees. In fact, the Ethics Committee is authorized only to give opinions to
members of The Florida Bar in good standing, concerning their own present or proposed
conduct. If local grievance committees desire advice on questions of professional ethics, they
may direct the request to the Board of Governors, who will assign the request, or otherwise take
action upon it, as the Board sees fit.
The inquiring attorney indicated that the local grievance committee, of which he is
chairman, is faced with the question: may a law partner of an assistant state attorney engage in
criminal defense practice, and, if so, in what courts?
The partner of a public prosecutor may not represent defendants in criminal cases within
the jurisdiction of the prosecutor; it is clearly unethical for one member of the firm to oppose the
interests of the state while the other member represents those interests. ABA Opinion 16 (1929).
It is improper for an assistant prosecutor to defend a client in a criminal case, and also improper
for his law partner to do so. ABA Opinion 142 (1935). A public prosecutor should not represent
criminal defendants even in another state. ABA Opinion 30 (1931). Even a county attorney, who
represents the county government in civil matters only, should not represent criminal defendants
in that county. ABA Opinion 186 (1938). The relations of partners in a law firm are so close that
the firm and all the members thereof are barred from accepting any employment that any one
member of the firm is prohibited from taking. ABA Opinion 72 (1932); ABA Opinion 50 (1931);
ABA Opinion 49 (1931); ABA Opinion 33 (1931).