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 . . .

The Florida Supreme Court vacates a death sentence conviction and remands for a new penalty phase based on counsel’s ineffective assistance in conducting an unreasonable mitigation investigation . . . (see more) [Added 7/21/17]


The Second DCA removes a lawyer from a case and refers him to the Florida Bar for failing to comply with court orders and the attendant delays . . . (see more) [Added 7/20/17]


Finding ambiguity in a defendant’s auto insurance policy, the Florida Supreme Court rules that the insurer is responsible for paying the plaintiff’s fees and costs resulting from an unaccepted offer of judgment . . . (see more) [Added 7/19/17]


Summary judgment for a lawyer in a legal malpractice case was affirmed where the trial court properly declined to apply equitable estoppel as a bar to the lawyer’s statute of limitations defense . . . (see more) [Added 7/18/17]


A sanctions order under F.S. 57.105 is reversed because the 21-day “safe harbor” letter failed to strictly comply with Fla.R.Jud.Admin. 2.516(b)(1)(E) . . . (see more) [Added 7/17/17]


A trial court erred in disqualifying the movant’s opposing counsel because the lawyer never actually represented the movant nor did he participate in confidential communications with the movant . . . (see more) [Added 7/12/17]


A court erred by ordering production of public records in a time frame that did not allow redaction of exempt information and without requiring payment from the requesting law firm . . . (see more) [Added 7/11/17]


The First DCA clarifies the meaning of a “good faith” offer under the offer of judgment statute . . . (see more) [Added 7/10/17]


The Fourth DCA reverses a criminal conviction due on direct appeal due to ineffective assistance of counsel . . . (see more) [Added 7/8/17]


Regardless of whether a motion to interview jurors after a criminal trial is considered under Rule 4-3.5(d)(4) or Fla.R.Crim.P. 3.575, the movant must make a preliminary showing of prejudice in order to be entitled to interview jurors . . . (see more) [Added 7/7/17]


The Fourth DCA upholds a trial court order barring the lawyers in a criminal case from making extrajudicial statements until the jury had been sworn for the defendant’s third trial . . . (see more) [Added 7/6/17]


The Florida Bar Professional Ethics Committee publishes a proposed advisory opinion addressing dividing fees with out-of-state lawyers who work in firms that have non-lawyer partners . . . (see more) [Added 7/1/17]


A prosecutor’s comments during closing argument may have been “ill-advised” but did not warrant reversal . . . (see more) [Added 6/29/17]


An order sentencing a self-represented defendant on a violation of probation charge is reversed because the trial court failed to renew an offer of counsel before sentencing . . . (see more) [Added 6/28/17]


A trial court’s disqualification of a lawyer who had consulted with a prospective client is overturned because the court failed to apply Rule 4-1.18 . . . (see more) [Added 6/26/17]


A fee award in a dissolution case is reversed because the award was based solely on the relative income of the parties, apparently without consideration of anything else . . . (see more) [Added 6/25/17]


A trial court erred in failing to allow a substitution of counsel in an incapacity proceeding . . . (see more) [Added 6/19/17]


A trial court erred in invalidating approval of a workers’ compensation insurance rate increase for alleged violations of the open meetings and public records laws . . . (see more) [Added 6/13/17]


The First DCA concludes that an indigent defendant represented by pro bono counsel has no right to file motions for appointed experts and miscellaneous costs ex parte and under seal, but certifies the question to the Florida Supreme Court . . . (see more) [Added 6/12/17]


Where neither fees nor punitive damages were pleaded, a trial court erred in ruling that an offer of settlement was invalid because it did not state whether fees were part of the claim settlement or include an amount for punitive damages . . . (see more) [Added 6/9/17]


A judge’s disqualification was not warranted when a criminal defendant complained about the judge’s handling of trial scheduling and alleged “favoritism” toward the State . . . (see more) [Added 6/8/17]


The Third DCA cautions prosecutors against arguments asking the jury to “do justice” for the victim, but affirms because the improper comments were not objected to . . . (see more) [Added 6/7/17]


The Florida Supreme Court suspends and publicly reprimands a judge as a result of allegedly misleading and deceptive campaign advertising . . . (see more) [Added 6/5/17]


An evidentiary hearing is required to determine whether the crime-fraud exception applies to an asserted attorney-client privilege . . . (see more) [Added 6/3/17]


The Florida Supreme Court amends the Code of Judicial Conduct to address financial and gift disclosure requirements for judges . . . (see more) [Added 5/31/17]


The Supreme Court adopts rules of professional conduct and family law procedure to facilitate use of the collaborative law process in family law cases . . . (see more) [Added 5/19/17]


The Florida Supreme Court rejects a referee’s recommended sanction and imposes a longer suspension on a lawyer found guilty of disbursing trust funds without court approval and negligence in managing his trust account . . . (see more) [Added 5/8/17]


The Florida Supreme Court dismisses without prejudice the Bar’s petition to amend the rules regulating lawyer referral services . . . (see more) [Added 5/3/17]


After reversing convictions for other reasons, the Third DCA comments on improper closing arguments by the prosecution to prevent their recurrence at the retrial
. . . (see more) [Added 4/17/17]


The Florida Supreme rejects proposed amendments to the rules regarding character and fitness evaluations of students who apply for the Law School Practice Program . . . (see more) [Added 4/14/17]


The Florida Bar asks the Supreme Court to approve amendments to relax conflict rules when lawyers provide short-term, limited representation through non-profit organization, court, agency, bar association, and law school programs . . . (see more) [Added 4/13/17]


The Florida Bar petitions the Supreme Court for approval of rules that would allow lawyer spouses of active duty military personnel to practice in Florida for limited time under certain conditions . . . (see more) [Added 4/12/17]


The irrefutable presumption that a lawyer acquired confidential information in an attorney-client relationship also applies to “prospective clients,” per the Third DCA . . . (see more) [Added 3/20/17]


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 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]


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]