FLORIDA BAR ETHICS OPINION
March 18, 1966
Advisory ethics opinions are not binding.
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
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.