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 . . .

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A trial court erred in denying fees to a party whose proposals for settlement were not accepted, on the ground that the proposals were not served by email . . . (see more) [Added 4/28/17]


A trial court erred in awarding fees in a dissolution case based on its own formula to provide a “disincentive” to future litigation rather than following the requirements of F.S. 61.16 . . . (see more) [Added 4/26/17]


The Third DCA affirms a conviction despite improper closing arguments that were not objected to, but emphasizes that the affirmance does not make the prosecutor’s misconduct “awful but lawful” . . . (see more) [Added 4/24/17]


A trial court erred in denying a fee motion on the ground that the movant’s proposal for settlement was ambiguous because the attached release used broad language typical of a standard general release . . . (see more) [Added 4/23/17]


The Florida Supreme Court rules that whether a personal injury client’s lawyer referred the client to a doctor for treatment is protected by the attorney-client privilege . . . (see more) [Added 4/19/17]


The First DCA reverses a postconviction court’s order granting a new trial on the ground that defense counsel rendered ineffective assistance by failing to object to comments by the prosecutor during closing argument . . . (see more) [Added 4/18/17]


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]


Referring in a release to “defendants” (plural) does not create a reasonable ambiguity in a proposal for settlement, per the Third DCA . . . (see more) [Added 4/16/17]


In order for the reciprocal fee provisions of section 57.105 to apply, there must be a contract between the parties . . . (see more) [Added 4/15/17]


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]


A motion to disqualify a senior judge was timely despite being made more than 10 days after the judge’s comments, where the movant reasonably believed that the judge would not remain on the case . . . (see more) [Added 4/11/17]


The University of Miami leads all Florida law schools with a first-time pass rate of 80.6% on the February 2017 general bar examination . . . (see more) [Added 4/11/17]


A trial court erred in denying a law firm’s motion for charging lien in a dissolution case on the ground that the share of the marital assets awarded to the firm’s client was not “tangible fruits” of the firm’s services . . . (see more) [Added 4/10/17]


Judgment on the pleadings was affirmed against a defense law firm whose claim to a “success fee” was unenforceable due to failure to include essential terms . . . (see more) [Added 4/7/17]


A prosecutor did not commit fundamental error by comparing a criminal defendant and his co-defendants to “a pack of wolves” in closing argument . . . (see more) [Added 4/3/17]


Suspending a lawyer for 1 year for lack of competence, failing to follow court rules and orders, and misrepresentation to a court, the Supreme Court holds that the referee in a disciplinary case may question the respondent lawyer even if the lawyer does not testify as a witness . . . (see more) [Added 3/31/17]


Although a judge’s overhead comment about a lawyer’s verbosity did not warrant disqualification, the judge is disqualified due to a response filed on the judge’s behalf . . . (see more) [Added 3/30/17]


The Fifth DCA criticizes the filing of a motion for rehearing that was “inappropriate and meritless” . . . (see more) [Added 3/28/17]


An insurer’s proposal for settlement was ambiguous because it was inconsistent with the release form attached to the proposal . . . (see more) [Added 3/25/17]


A Florida state court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over a legal malpractice case whose resolution would have required the court to decide federal law issues related to a patent’s scope, validity, or infringement . . . (see more) [Added 3/23/17]


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]


Reserving jurisdiction to award attorney’s fees does not override the Fla.R.Civ.P. 1.525 requirement that a motion for fees be served within 30 days of entry of judgment where the judgment did not determine entitlement to fees . . . (see more) [Added 3/15/17]


On direct appeal, the Fifth DCA reverses a first-degree murder conviction and remands for entry of judgment for second-degree murder based on ineffective assistance of counsel apparent on the face of the record . . . (see more) [Added 3/13/17]


A trial court erred in disqualifying a lawyer from “all aspects” of the case where the lawyer may be a witness . . . (see more) [Added 3/11/17]


The Professional Ethics Committee adopts an advisory opinion on criminal defense lawyers telling clients about company that would finance the lawyer’s legal fees through loans to clients . . . (see more) [Added 3/10/17]


Sitting en banc, the Fourth DCA recedes from its prior opinion and concludes that appellate attorney’s fees may be recovered under F.S. 742.0345 in paternity actions . . . (see more) [Added 3/8/17]


The First DCA reverses a $16 million verdict in a tobacco case because plaintiff’s counsel exhibited “flagrant disregard for the bounds of proper argument" . . . (see more) [Added 3/2/17]


Applying the bright-line rule regarding accrual of a legal malpractice cause of action, the Fourth DCA concludes that the statute of limitations may run on some claims in litigation but not on others that are still unresolved . . . (see more) [Added 3/1/17]


Again finding the recommended sanction too lenient, the Florida Supreme Court increases the suspension of a lawyer who mishandled $500 of trust money from 90 days to one year . . . (see more) [Added 2/22/17]


The Supreme Court decides that the litigation privilege cannot be used to bar a claim of malicious prosecution that is otherwise viable . . . (see more) [Added 2/21/17]


The Supreme Court rules that a $100,000 attorney’s fee limitation in a $10 million claims bill for a law firm’s client was an unconstitutional impairment of the attorney-client contract . . . (see more) [Added 2/14/17]


Homeowners who prevailed in litigation with a voluntary homeowners’ association are entitled to fees under F.S. 712.08 (MRTA) but not under the reciprocal provision of F.S. 57.105 because the court ruled that no contract existed between the parties . . . (see more) [Added 2/10/17]


The First DCA grants a certiorari petition and quashes an order setting an evidentiary hearing on a motion for attorney's fees that was filed after the case had been voluntarily dismissed . . . (see more) [Added 2/8/17]


The Professional Ethics Committee addresses third-party financing of criminal defense legal fees and diving fees with out-of-state lawyers who work in firms that have non-lawyer partners . . . (see more) [Added 2/2/17]


The U.S. District Court for the Middle District applies the federal courts’ “balancing test” and declines to disqualify a law firm that performed services for a client that the firm was opposing in different litigation . . . (see more) [Added 2/1/17]


Noting that parties should not “nit-pick” proposals for settlement in searching for ambiguity, the Fourth DCA rules that a proposal that used the term “claims” instead of “damages” was not ambiguous . . . (see more) [Added 1/21/17]


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]


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]


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]