sunEthics 

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




NEW in Florida Legal Ethics . . .

A partner of the lawyer representing a party may not serve as a “disinterested” appraiser under an insurance policy . . .  (see more[Added 9/29/14]


The Florida Bar results for the July 2014 exam are released; the University of Florida tops the list with 90.6% passing . . .  (see more)  [Added 9/22/14]


The Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee addresses whether a candidate may accept endorsements from the state attorney, the sheriff, and the police chief . . .  (see more[Added 9/19/14]


A proposal for settlement made earlier than 90 after a party was added as a defendant will not support an award of attorney’s fees to that party under the offer of judgment statute and rule . . .  (see more[Added 9/15/14]


In a third-party bad faith suit, the attorney-client privilege may apply to protect communications between the insurer and its counsel, per the Fifth DCA . . .  (see more[Added 9/12/14]


A trial court erred in awarding appellate attorney’s fees as a discovery sanction authorization from the appellate court . . .  (see more[Added 9/9/14]


It was error to award attorney’s fees to a former wife who had ample means to obtain counsel . . .  (see more[Added 9/3/14]


The Fifth DCA reverses a criminal conviction for fundamental error in closing argument, calling the prosecutor’s conduct “unprofessional” . . .  (see more[Added 9/3/14]


An agency violated the Public Records Act by delaying disclosure of non-exempt records to a litigation opponent . . . (see more[Added 9/2/14]


A settlement agreement conditioned upon a former client’s withdrawal of a Bar complaint is an unenforceable term that is not severable from the purported agreement . . .  (see more[Added 9/2/14]


A “shade meeting” transcript becomes public record on conclusion of the underlying lawsuit, notwithstanding the later filing of a related suit . . .  (see more [Added 9/1/14]


The Fourth DCA allows financial discovery as to the relationship between a plaintiff’s law firm and treating physician regardless of whether the firm referred the plaintiff to the doctor . . .  (see more[Added 8/28/14]


A trial court erred in dismissing a complaint for writ of mandamus to compel production of public records based solely on the pleadings and without holding an evidentiary hearing . . .  (see more)   [Added 8/27/14]


Appellate attorney’s fees are awarded under section 57.105 for the filing of an appeal that the appellant (a law firm) “knew or should have known” was frivolous . . .  (see more[Added 8/26/14]


A trial court erred by applying the wrong test to determine whether a criminal defendant would be allowed to represent himself . . .  (see more[Added 8/24/14]


A trial court abused its discretion in ordering a divorcing wife to pay attorney’s fees that would result in an “inequitable diminution” of her equitable distribution award . . .  (see more[Added 8/23/14]


A court erred in ordering production of a law firm’s file to its former client despite the firm’s assertion of a retaining lien . . .  (see more[Added 8/19/14]


A trial court did not err in denying section 57.105 sanctions sought by the defendant in a malicious prosecution case who was granted summary judgment on qualified immunity grounds . . .  (see more[Added 8/17/14]


Court may not award F.S. 57.105 sanctions against party that voluntarily dismissed suit before running of 21-day safe harbor period . . .  (see more)   [Added 8/17/14]


Criminal defendant’s lawyer did not provide ineffective assistance of counsel by refusing to call witness who would testify falsely . . .  (see more[Added 8/16/14]


After reaffirming that there is no right to appointment of appellate counsel in postconviction proceedings, the Second DCA adopts a new procedure for handling postconviction appeals when appointed counsel find no arguable issues to brief . . .  (see more)   [Added 8/15/14]


Strict compliance with the service of process rules is required for motions to disqualify judges . . .  (see more[Added 8/13/14]


A judge running for re-election may not use a photo taken at the judge’s investiture of the judge being sworn in by a now-deceased judge . . .  (see more[Added 8/12/14]


A trial court erred in denying a motion for attorney’s fees on “failure to plead” grounds . . .  (see more)   [Added 8/6/14]


A trial court erred in ordering production of privileged documents based on the crime-fraud exception without first holding an evidentiary hearing . . .  (see more)   [Added 8/4/14]


The Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee affirms its prior position regarding disclosure and disqualification relating to lawyers on a judge’s campaign committee . . .  (see more)   [Added 7/31/14]


A judicial candidate may attend an event sponsored by a political party but may not pay for a sponsorship or advertisement in the event’s program . . .  (see more[Added 7/26/14]


The First DCA reverses a trial court’s award of costs as a sanction under section 57.105 . . .  (see more)   [Added 7/23/14]


A judge may model in a fashion show where the proceeds primarily benefit a free childcare facility located in the courthouse . . .  (see more)   [Added 7/22/14]


Although a lawyer’s behavior was “not professional,” a trial court abused its discretion in imposing sanctions for creating “an atmosphere of anxiety and hostility” that disrupted a compulsory medical exam . . .  (see more)   [Added 7/21/14]


In a coverage dispute, a trial court erred in ordering production of an insurer’s claim file from a closed claim over the insurer’s work product objection . . .  (see more)   [Added 7/18/14]


The Florida Supreme Court denies a motion to withdraw filed by a lawyer representing a convicted criminal defendant who wants to argue for a death sentence . . .  (see more)   [Added 7/17/14]


An offer that would settle “any” claims for punitive damages does not meet the “particularity” requirement and so will not support a fee award under the offer of judgment statute and rule . . .  (see more)   [Added 7/16/14]


The Florida Supreme Court adopts minimum standards for lead counsel in capital postconviction proceedings and prohibits defendants sentenced to death from representing themselves in postconviction proceedings . . .  (see more)   [Added 7/7/14]


At its June 2014 meeting, the Florida Bar Professional Ethics Committee approves allowing nonlawyers to affix electronic signatures to documents for lawyers, and tables action on issues relating to lawyers advising clients to “clean up” their social media pages before suit is filed . . .  (see more)   [Added 7/2/14]


A motion to disqualify a judge did not trigger the time limits for ruling on the motion under Fla.R.Jud.Admin. 2.330(j) because it was filed before the court’s jurisdiction had been invoked . . .  (see more)   [Added 7/1/14]


The Florida Supreme Court disciplines a judge for campaign-related violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct and Florida law . . .  (see more)   [Added 6/30/14]


The First DCA declines to reverse an unauthorized award of fees under section 57.105, concluding that the “fundamental error” doctrine does not apply . . .  (see more)   [Added 6/24/14]


The Florida Supreme Court disbars a lawyer for a “continuing pattern of neglect” in a divorce case . . .  (see more)   [Added 6/23/14]


The Florida Supreme Court rejects constitutional challenges to portions of the “Timely Justice Act of 2013” concerning conflicts of interest and constitutionally deficient representation . . .  (see more)   [Added 6/19/14]


An email request for public records is sufficient to give standing to bring a mandamus action to compel production of the records sought . . .  (see more)   [Added 6/18/14]


A fee award under the offer of judgment statute is reversed because the offer was to settle claims for both damages and equitable relief . . .  (see more)   [Added 6/17/14]


The Florida Bar Board of Governors will not prosecute lawyers who give advice to clients regarding operating a medical marijuana business that is legal under state, but not federal, law . . .  (see more)   [Added 6/16/14]


A former judge is disbarred rather than suspended for “dishonest conduct and the harm that her actions have caused to the administration of justice in a capital first-degree murder case” . . .  (see more)   [Added 6/6/14]


Emphasizing the deterrence effect of severe disciplinary sanctions, the Supreme Court suspends a lawyer for 3 years rather than 6 months for filing a forged document and failing to promptly return funds to a former client . . .  (see more)   [Added 6/4/14]



The Florida Supreme Court approves multiple rule changes requested by the Florida Bar, including revisions to rules governing conflicts and paying witnesses, but rejects a proposal to restrict activities of suspended and disbarred lawyers . . .  (see more) [Added 3/29/14]

G.A.C.

In Memoriam, 1925-2002