The Florida Bar

Ethics Opinion

Opinion 68-57

January 16, 1969
Advisory ethics opinions are not binding.
An attorney may not simultaneously serve as a Public Defender and County Prosecuting


Chairman MacDonald stated the opinion of the committee:
A member of The Florida Bar advises that in the November 1968 general
election he was elected Public Defender for his judicial circuit, and he expects to
assume that office on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January 1969. At
present, he is serving, by appointment of the Board of County Commissioners of
his own county (one of several counties within the circuit), as County Prosecuting
Attorney. He inquires as to whether he may continue to serve in this capacity as
Prosecuting Attorney subsequent to the assumption of his role as Public Defender.
He points out that within the county of his residence, because of varying
circumstances and the small number of resident lawyers, there would be no one
else available to take this position.
We are sympathetic with the plight in which the inquirer finds himself, but note that he
obviously voluntarily sought the post of Public Defender and that the position of Public Defender
could definitely be filled by an attorney from some other county within the circuit. In any event,
it is our strong feeling that there is such a fundamental conflict in these two positions that service
in both would clearly contravene Canon 6. Accordingly, the inquirer should make such election
as he may be advised, but should not serve in both capacities.