FLORIDA BAR ETHICS OPINION
June 28, 1971
Advisory ethics opinions are not binding.
In the event of a bona fide emergency under the “speedy trial” rule, attorneys who occasionally
defend criminal cases in the same court may be appointed special county prosecutors.
Chairman Massey stated the opinion of the committee:
The inquiring attorney is a county solicitor whose county has followed a
practice of appointing young attorneys as special assistant county solicitors for
part-time duty without compensation in a court of record. These men do not
normally have extensive criminal practice, although they and their partners and
associates from time to time handle criminal defense matters in the same court of
record. We are asked if such a special solicitor, if limited to handling
arraignments, might also maintain a defense practice within the court and further
if this individual might also handle misdemeanor trials as a special solicitor. The
inquirer advises he is attempting to cope with the time requirements for speedy
trials as required by the Florida Supreme Court’s rules.
A majority of the Committee would approve ethically the use of these attorneys for short
periods of time when by reason of bona fide emergencies under the “speedy trial” rule such
service at arraignment or trial would be required by the prosecuting office involved, even though
such attorneys or their partners or associates are performing defense work in the same court. The
special solicitors should, however, scrupulously avoid conflicts between individual cases.
A minority find that to be consistent with Florida Opinions 70-11 [since withdrawn] and
70-38 and the prior position of the Committee, no determination should be made by this
Committee as to the application or existence of a local hardship exception to the general rule as it
would control the functions of county solicitors. The minority believe the inquirer should be
referred to his local court judge.
Opinion 70-11 [since withdrawn] does not allow any exception for the person serving as
“assistant” or “special” county solicitor and the majority opinion herein partially overrules 70-11
[since withdrawn] to the extent that where an emergency would exist, the prosecuting authorities
and the courts may find it necessary and appropriate to waive the general rule without those
special solicitors being in a position of ethically violating the CPR.