sunEthics 

Covering legal ethics, judicial ethics, bar admissions in Florida, Tennessee, and nationally.  See our Subject Index to past postings.

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NEW in Florida Legal Ethics . . .

Although the prosecution made multiple “questionable comments” that read like a “primer for prosecutors entitled ‘What Not to Say During Closing Argument,’” the conviction was affirmed because the comments failed to rise to the level of fundamental error . . . (see more) [Added 1/18/17]


The “significant issues” tests applies when a party seeks attorney’s fees as damages pursuant to F.S. 713.31(2)(c) in a construction lien case . . . (see more) [Added 1/16/17]


A postconviction court properly denied an ineffective assistance motion as successive where the court found that defense counsel did not have good cause for failing to file the claim with the original motion . . . (see more) [Added 1/12/17]


A trial court’s production order requiring filing of a privilege log as to categories of documents that “typically would be privileged” is quashed by the Fifth DCA . . . (see more) [Added 1/9/17]


A convicted criminal defendant’s handwritten notes are not protected by the attorney-client privilege because they were not “communications” with counsel . . . (see more) [Added 1/6/17]


Knowingly false allegations in a complaint to the Commission on Ethics do not support a fee award for the prevailing public official unless they were “material” to a purported ethics violation . . . (see more) [Added 1/5/17]


A judge should have been disqualified for allegedly engaging in ex parte communications with a party before entering a final judgment that was “nearly identical” to that party’s proposed judgment . . . (see more) [Added 1/4/17]


After a plaintiff voluntarily dismissed the suit within the 21-day safe harbor period in F.S. 57.105, the defendant could not base its motion for sanctions on Fla.R.Civ.P. 1.525 and the court’s inherent power . . . (see more) [Added 1/3/17]


A trial court erred in applying the “significant issue” test to deny a fee award to a party who prevailed on the only causes of action for which fees were recoverable . . . (see more) [Added 1/2/17]


It is not necessary to be a prevailing party in order to obtain a fee award in a Florida Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Association dispute . . .  (see more)   [Added 12/31/16]


The Board of Governors approves rules that would allow lawyer spouses of active duty military personnel to practice in Florida for a limited time under certain conditions
. . . (see more) [Added 12/30/16]


The Fourth DCA affirms a trial court’s determination that an hourly fee of $189.21 to respond to a public records request involving a ballot inspection was reasonable under the circumstances . . . (see more) [Added 12/29/16]


The Florida Supreme Court rejects a “narrow view” of what constitutes competent representation, and increases the discipline to be imposed on a lawyer for a “pattern of client neglect and mismanagement” . . . (see more) [Added 12/28/16]


A trial court applied the wrong standard and consequently erred in denying a public defender’s motion to withdraw . . . (see more) [Added 12/27/16]


Distinguishing a recent line of cases, the Fourth DCA affirms a plaintiff’s judgment despite closing argument by plaintiff’s counsel disparaging the tobacco company for defending itself . . . (see more) [Added 12/23/16]


A judge is not disqualified despite making a comment that a party believed reflected “negative and unfounded stereotypes” of persons of the party’s ethnic background . . . (see more) [Added 12/21/16]


A party seeking appellate fees as a sanction pursuant to F.S. 57.105 must comply with Fla.R.App.P. 9.410(b), not rule 9.400 . . . (see more) [Added 12/21/16]


Although a motion for disqualification was legally sufficient, the judge was not disqualified because the movant failed to timely act to prevent the judge from taking further action pending appellate review . . . (see more) [Added 12/20/16]


The Supreme Court certifies the need for 12 new trial judges throughout Florida . . . (see more) [Added 12/19/16]


Florida guardianship law authorizes a fee award to a lawyer for an emergency temporary guardian, even where ultimately there is no judicial determination of incapacity . . . (see more) [Added 12/12/16]


The Third DCA affirms the denial of fees based on a proposal for settlement that was determined to be ambiguous when read together with an attached general release . . . (see more) [Added 12/9/16]


A lawyer who moved from a firm that defended a tobacco company in products liability cases to a firm that represented a plaintiff against that company is disqualified, along with his new firm . . . (see more) [Added 12/8/16]


A summary judgment granted against the clients of a lawyer who returned a few minutes late from the restroom is reversed . . . (see more) [Added 12/6/19]


The Third DCA grants a petition for certiorari to quash a non-final order compelling disclosure of attorney-client privileged documents and opinion work product . . . (see more) [Added 12/1/16]


A court was not required to use the “magic words ‘bad faith’” in an order sanctioning a lawyer for repeatedly violating court orders and putting inadmissible evidence before the jury . . . (see more) [Added 11/29/16]


The Supreme Court decides that offers of settlement made to 3 related defendant entities may not be aggregated before being compared to the final judgment for purposes of a fee award under F.S. 768.79 . . . (see more) [Added 11/28/16]


The Florida Bar petitions the Supreme Court for amendments to rules regarding soliciting gifts or fiduciary appointments from clients, settling malpractice claims with unrepresented clients, notifying clients when leaving a law firm, using “specialist” or “expert” in advertising, contacting prospective clients, keeping trust funds in credit unions, and protecting trust funds when third parties claim an interest in them . . . (see more) [Added 11/23/16]


The Bar petitions the Supreme Court for amendments to the law school practice program and the authorized house counsel rules . . . (see more) [Added 11/22/16]


The Supreme Court rules that, if attorney’s fees are not sought in the pleadings, an offer of settlement is not invalid for not stating whether the offer includes fees . . . (see more) [Added 11/10/16]


The Professional Ethics Committee publishes proposed advisory opinions on waiving advanced costs in personal injury cases and on criminal defense lawyers telling clients about a company that would finance the lawyer’s legal fees in the representation . . . (see more) [Added 10/26/16]


The Third DCA refers a lawyer to the Local Professionalism Panel as a sanction for improperly abandoning an appeal . . . (see more) [Added 10/24/16]


The Supreme Court rejects a third Florida Bar proposal to authorize lawyers to handle “extraordinary” lien resolution services on a referral from a personal injury lawyer . . . (see more) [Added 10/7/16]


On rehearing en banc, the Fourth DCA reverses a $70 million judgment against tobacco defendants due to “repeated inflammatory arguments of plaintiff’s counsel” . . . (see more) [Added 10/3/16]


The Florida Supreme Court amends the ethics rules to address technological competence and requires 3 CLE hours in technology every 3 years (increasing the total required CLE hours to 33 every 3 years) . . . (see more) [Added 9/29/16]


Florida International tops the state in general bar exam results for July 2016 . . . (see more) [Added 9/19/16]


The Board of Governors petitions the Supreme Court for approval of changes to the rules governing referral services and other entities that match potential clients with lawyers . . . (see more) [Added 8/16/16]


The Supreme Court holds that workers’ compensation fee statute is unconstitutional . . . (see more) [Added 4/28/16]


The Supreme Court rejects proposed changes to the lawyer referral service rules, instead directing the Florida Bar to develop a proposal that requires for-profit referral services to be lawyer owned or operated . . . (see more) [Added 9/27/15]


The Supreme Court approves a rule defining retainers, flat fees, and advance fees and specifying how they should be handled for trust accounting purposes . . . (see more) [Added 9/19/15]


The Supreme Court amends Rules Regulating The Florida Bar on lawyer discipline, confidentiality, trust accounting, professionalism, and others . . . (see more) [Added 6/12/15]


The Supreme Court approves “housekeeping” changes to the Rules of Professional Conduct regarding duties to prospective clients, misdirected electronic communications, and unauthorized practice of law . . . (see more) [Added 5/21/15]


The Board of Governors adopts “Professionalism Expectations” for Florida lawyers . . . (see more) [Added 2/3/15]


The Florida Bar withdraws its “Guidelines for Advertising Past Results” after a federal court finds them unconstitutional . . . (see more) [Added 12/22/14]