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

Hotline help:  While the FL Bar offices are closed, FL Bar members can call former Bar Ethics Director Tim Chinaris at (615) 460-8264 for a short, no-charge phone discussion about your ethics question. M-F, 9-5 EDT.  Click for specifics.

A motion to disqualify a judge should have been granted even though the movant’s opponent strongly objected to the facts alleged in the motion . . . (see more) [Added 4/9/20]

Appellate counsel was not ineffective for failing to present a novel legal argument on direct appeal, per the Florida Supreme Court . . . (see more) [Added 4/7/20]

The Florida Supreme Court reprimands 5 judges for sending a letter to a Florida agency urging award of a contract to a particular vendor
. . . (see more) [Added 4/3/20]

A probate court erred in imposing a charging lien and awarding personal representative’s former lawyer fees to be partly paid by the former personal representative personally . . . (see more) [Added 3/31/20]

A judge who had disqualified himself from all of a lawyer’s cases is disqualified from presiding over a post-conviction hearing at which that lawyer will testify . . . (see more) [Added 3/26/20]

Prevailing party fees should not have been awarded against plaintiffs that voluntarily dismissed the  suit because the dismissal did not make the defendants “prevailing” parties under the facts of the case . . . (see more) [Added 3/24/20]

A public adjuster who has contracted for a contingent fee of insurance proceeds may not serve as a “disinterested appraiser” for the appraisal required by the policy’s dispute resolution process . . . (see more) [Added 3/18/20]

Work product privilege may attach to an insurer’s claim file even where that claim was settled without litigation, per the Second DCA . . . (see more) [Added 3/16/20]

Florida Administrative Code rules of procedure do not extend the statutory 30-day time limit for paying workers’ comp benefits before a claimant’s entitlement to attorney’s fees attaches . . . (see more) [Added 3/12/20]

The Fourth DCA reverses an order requiring a law firm to hold funds in its trust account until the firm’s dispute with a lender to which the firm had pledged fees as collateral was resolved . . . (see more) [Added 3/10/20]

Lawyers for the wife in a divorce case were entitled to F.S. 57.105 fees after the husband’s former law firm filed a charging lien against them that was not supported by material facts or application of existing law to the facts . . . (see more) [Added 3/9/20]

A judge is disqualified from a dependency case based on alleged statements about the credibility of the child’s mother and family members . . . (see more) [Added 3/4/20]

Receding from a prior opinion, the Fourth DCA rules that the email service requirements of Fla.R.Jud.Admin. 2.516 do not apply to service of a safe harbor notice under F.S. 57.105 . . . (see more) [Added 3/2/20]

Despite “clearly improper” closing arguments by defense counsel in a personal injury case, an order for new trial is reversed because plaintiff failed to move for a mistrial and the arguments did not constitute fundamental error . . .  (see more) [Added 2/28/20]

The Second DCA questions, but does not decide, the validity of an argument made by a prevailing homeowner in a mortgage foreclosure who unsuccessfully sought fees despite the lender’s lack of standing in the foreclosure suit . . . (see more) [Added 2/26/20]

A prevailing party was not entitled to fees because there was no “recovery” as required by fee agreement between prevailing party and his lawyer . . . (see more) [Added 2/24/20]

A trial court erred in awarding fees against FIGA because the insured’s claim was not denied by affirmative action before he filed suit . . . (see more) [2/21/20]

The Supreme Court approves changes to the rules setting the qualifications for lawyer and non-lawyer members of the Board of Bar Examiners . . . (see more) [Added 2/19/20]

The Second DCA indicates that the practice of subpoenaing a party’s law firm, rather than the party, for non-party trust records is “not prohibited” but should not be employed without safeguards . . . (see more) [Added 2/17/20]

A court erred in not awarding prevailing party fees where the movant proved a breach of contract but did not recover damages . . . (see more) [Added 2/13/20]

The Professional Ethics Committee addresses interstate law firms that operate in Florida, lawyers working with public adjusters, a former court employee’s access to court documents, lawyers’ responses to negative online reviews, and proposed amendments to the client-with-diminished-capacity rule . . . (see more) [Added 2/11/20]

The Third DCA rules that a trial judge should be disqualified based on a sanctions order against the movant’s former counsel that allegedly implicated the movant in the misconduct . . . (see more) [Added 2/5/20]

A motion for withdrawal filed by private counsel on the eve of a sentencing hearing was properly denied under Fla.R.Jud.Admin. 2.505(f)(1), where the only reason given for withdrawal was “irreconcilable differences” . . . (see more) [Added 2/3/20]

On its own motion, the Supreme Court removes two subjects from the list of subjects tested on the Florida bar exam . . . (see more) [Added 1/27/20]

An order awarding fees to the former wife in a marriage dissolution case is reversed because it lacked adequate factual findings of the wife’s need or the husband’s inequitable conduct . . . (see more) [Added 1/23/20]

Florida Bar Procedures for Ruling on Questions of Ethics are changed to permit out-of-state lawyers who are authorized to practice in Florida to obtain Bar advisory ethics opinions . . . (see more) [Added 1/21/20]

A person whose request for a public record was denied until the conclusion of an active investigation was properly denied attorney’s fees . . . (see more) [Added 1/17/20]

The Fourth DCA concludes that a trial judge should not be disqualified based on the judge’s Socratic questioning, testing hypotheticals, and comments about his rulings in other cases . . . (see more) [Added 1/15/20]

A court erred in compelling a county employee to testify even though he had not been retained as an expert witness and had no personal knowledge that would make him a fact witness . . . (see more) [Added 1/13/20]

Although the prosecution made an improper argument in closing, defense counsel did not move for mistrial after objection was sustained and the comment did not rise to the level of fundamental error
. . . (see more) [Added 1/10/20]

Admonishing defense counsel in front of the jury does not result in the judge’s disqualification . . . (see more) [Added 1/7/20]

The Florida Bar petitions the Supreme Court for approval of new rules creating a “Registered Online Service Provider” program . . . (see more) [Added 1/3/20]

The Supreme Court determines that during a Faretta inquiry a trial judge need not ask specifically ask about the defendant’s age, experience, and understanding of criminal procedure . . . (see more) [Added 12/30/19]

The Supreme Court adopts new Rule of Judicial Administration 2.570 providing for parental leave continuances in cases except criminal, juvenile, and involuntary civil commitment of sexually violent predator matters . . . (see more) [Added 12/19/19]

A defendant in an action for unpaid condo association assessments is entitled to prevailing party fees even though he sold his unit during the pendency of the litigation . . . (see more) [Added 12/17/19]

The Supreme Court rules that a public defender’s office did not provide ineffective assistance by representing the defendant despite one of its lawyers being precluded from the case due to an acquaintance with the victim and her family . . . (see more) [Added 12/11/19]

A trial court erred in denying fees to a party that prevailed on a “separate and distinct” claim in a lawsuit, even though the party did not prevail on the “significant issue” in the case . . . (see more) [Added 12/9/19]

Florida International tops the state in the July 2019 general bar examination . . . (see more) [Added 9/16/19]

The Supreme Court approves amendments to Rule 4-7.14 to permit non-certified lawyers, and law firms, to advertise that they specialize or have expertise in areas of practice . . . (see more) [Added 7/1/19]

The Board of Governors approves a rule change proposal that would prohibit advertising lawyers from using the names of other lawyers or law firms in a misleading way that states or implies that the other lawyer is part of the advertising lawyer’s firm . . . (see more) [Added 6/3/19]

The Supreme Court withdraws its prior opinion (which ruled that prevailing party fees are recoverable under the reciprocal provisions of F.S. 57.105 by a borrower who succeeded in having plaintiff’s mortgage foreclosure suit dismissed on grounds including lack of standing), concluding that it had improvidently granted review . . . (see more) [Added 4/18/19]

The Supreme Court declines to adopt a proposed rule that would bar lawyers from accepting referrals from any entity that refers to more than one type of professional for the same incident or transaction
. . . (see more) [Added 4/15/19]

The question of an insurer’s standing to bring a malpractice claim against counsel hired to represent an insured is certified to the Supreme Court . . . (see more) [Added 3/22/2019]

The Supreme Court acts on the Bar’s biennial rules proposals, including proposed amendments relating to self-reporting criminal charges and convictions to the Bar, the Bar’s duty to notify the Court of a lawyer’s felony adjudication, client payments by credit card, imputed disqualification, collaborative law, CLE “professionalism” requirements, and electronic meetings
. . . (see more) [Added 1/14/19]

The Supreme Court amends rules regulating referral services to expressly recognize their applicability to all client-lawyer matching services, and further orders the Bar to prepare rules restricting services that refer to more than one professional service . . . (see more) [Added 3/9/18]

NEW in Florida Legal Ethics . . .