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 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]


A court erred in granting summary judgment on a law firm’s claim of litigation privilege, where some of the firm’s actions were taken after withdrawing from the representation . . . (see more) [Added 5/17/17]


A denial of a post-trial motion to interview a juror is reversed by the Fifth DCA . . . (see more) [Added 5/15/17]


A trial court erred in granting summary judgment for a defendant lawyer and law firm in a legal malpractice suit . . . (see more) [Added 5/12/17]


A convicted defendant’s claim of ineffective assistance of counsel is denied on appeal because he could not show that the representation was “adversely affected” when the original prosecutor switched to become his defense counsel on the same case . . . (see more) [Added 5/11/17]


A trial court abused its discretion in denying a 57.105 motion for fees against a party that improperly sought fees from impleaded defendants in proceedings supplementary . . . (see more) [Added 5/10/17]


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]


A prevailing party may be awarded fees for litigating the amount of fees to be recovered if the contract so provides; payment of “reasonable compensation” to fact witnesses for “preparing for, attending, and testifying at proceedings” is permitted by Rule 4-3.4(b) and does not affect right to fees . . . (see more) [Added 5/3/17]


The Florida Supreme Court adopts rules of procedure to be following regarding claims for ineffective assistance of counsel in termination of parental rights proceedings . . . (see more) [Added 5/1/17]


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]


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]


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]


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]


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]


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]