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Amendment clarifies the Bar’s role in dealing with constitutional officers while they still hold office

Senior Editor Top Stories

Board of Governors SealThe Board of Governors has signed off on a proposed rule amendment that would clarify that the Bar will take no action on complaints against a constitutional officer while the officer remains in office.

At a July 23 meeting on Miami Beach — and convened virtually — the board voted without objection to approve a proposed amendment to Rule 3-7.16 (Limitation on Time to Open Investigation).

Approved unanimously by the Disciplinary Procedures Committee in March, the proposed amendment to Rule 3-7.16 (d) (Constitutional Officers) states, “The Florida Bar is prohibited from filing a complaint or taking any other disciplinary action against a constitutional officer who is required to be a member in good standing of The Florida Bar to hold that office while the constitutional officer holds office.”

A proposed comment states, “Under Article IV, Section 7 of the Florida Constitution, the governor has the authority to suspend constitutional officers.”

If adopted, the proposed amendment would precede existing language in Subsection (d) that states, “Inquiries or complaints by or to The Florida Bar about the conduct of a constitutional officer who is required to be a member in good standing of The Florida Bar must be commenced within 6 years after the constitutional officer vacates office.”

According to a staff analysis, the clarification was necessary because “[t]he current rule is unclear, and members of the public have questioned why the Bar does not discipline constitutional officers who currently hold office.”

The proposal will be forwarded to the Supreme Court for final consideration.