FLORIDA BAR ETHICS OPINION
March 6, 1975
Advisory ethics opinions are not binding.
An attorney serving as part-time city defender for the municipality may ethically defend private
clients in criminal matters in state, county and municipal courts in the absence of a statute,
ordinance or contract barring such activity.
Fla. Atty. Gen. Op. 068-23, 068-31
Vice Chairman Sullivan stated the opinion of the committee.
An attorney serves as a part-time city defender for a municipality, defending
indigent persons two or three times a week. He asks whether he may with
propriety defend private clients in criminal cases in state, county and municipal
A majority of the Committee is of the opinion that such representation is proper in the
absence of a statute, a municipal ordinance or a contract with the municipality barring such
One Committeeman refers to Attorney General’s Opinion 068-23 interpreting Section
27.51(3), Florida Statutes (no distinction under Section 27.51(3) between assistant public
defender paid from state funds and one paid from county funds; neither can have private criminal
law practice) and Attorney General’s Opinion 068-31 (public defender cannot serve as city
prosecutor as “otherwise engaging” in the practice of criminal law) [sic]. He questions whether
there is any valid distinction between a public defender paid from state or county funds and one
paid from municipal funds and is of the opinion that those interpretations of Section 27.51(3)
may prohibit the inquiring attorney from engaging in a private criminal defense practice.