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Board of Governors to meet in Tallahassee January 27

Senior Editor Top Stories

Board of Governors SealFlorida Supreme Court Chief Justice Carlos Muñiz is scheduled to address the Board of Governors when it meets January 27 in Tallahassee to consider proposed rule amendments, regular committee reports, and various appointments.

The appearance is an annual tradition that previous chief justices have used to announce court priorities in the upcoming spring legislative session — which this year begins March 7 — or entertain questions from the board.

His appearance comes as justices are weighing a Supreme Court Judicial Management Council workgroup’s sweeping proposal to streamline Florida’s civil litigation system, one that the workgroup chair described as a “sea change from existing trial culture.”

Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers President Carolyn Timmann, Florida Bar Foundation President Judge Suzanne Van Wyk, and Florida Bar Foundation Executive Director Donny MacKenzie, are also scheduled to address the Board of Governors.

In other business, the board is expected to consider a Disciplinary Procedure Committee proposal to amend Bar Rule 1-3.3 (Official Bar Name and Contact Information).

In addition to changing the reference to “Contact” in the title, the proposed amendment contains a new subsection that would require all Florida Bar members to report other jurisdictions where they are admitted to the practice of law.

The Florida Bar participates in an ABA-sponsored, nationwide database to report discipline, but adding the new requirement “would give the bar another tool to report disciplinary action to those other jurisdictions,” according to a staff analysis.

It notes that a Florida lawyer who is disbarred and has already engaged in “serious misconduct” would be unlikely to report it to another jurisdiction.

If approved, the proposed amendments would be submitted to the Supreme Court for final determination.

The board is also scheduled to consider a Board Review Committee on Professional Ethics proposal to amend Rule 4-7.15 (Unduly Manipulative or Intrusive Advertisements), and Rule 4-7.13 (Deceptive and Inherently Misleading Advertisements).

The proposed changes contain a new subdivision (c) to Rule 4-7.15 that states that a lawyer “may use a testimonial of a celebrity who is a current or former client if the testimonial complies with the requirements of subchapter 4-7,” according to a staff analysis.

The proposed revision to Rule 4-7.13 updates the rule’s comment to reflect “that a celebrity may offer a truthful testimonial if they are a current or former client, and the testimonial complies with the existing requirements in Rule 4-7.13(b)(9).” If approved, the changes would be forwarded to the Supreme Court for final consideration.

The proposed revisions were prompted by a staff opinion last year that an advertisement by personal injury firm Morgan & Morgan was impermissible. The ad featured a testimonial by former NBA player and UF standout Chandler Parsons.

The Standing Committee on Advertising overruled the staff opinion that focused on Bar Rule 4-7.15’s prohibition of the use of “celebrity voices and images,” after determining that Parsons was not a celebrity.

Complicating the review was the fact that Parsons was also a Morgan & Morgan client. In the testimonial, Parsons described how the firm represented him after he suffered a career-ending injury in an automobile accident.

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