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 . . .




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 Fifth DCA reverses a conviction and refers the prosecutor to the Florida Bar and the local Professionalism Panel for a “flood” of improper arguments that was so “deep, wide, and unrelenting” it “made a mockery of the constitutional guarantee of a fair trial" . . . (see more) [Added 3/7/17]


A trial court erred in overruling a non-party’s relevance objections to a subpoena that sought privileged documents and requiring the non-party to file a privilege log . . . (see more) [Added 3/6/17]


The Third DCA criticizes a prosecutor’s closing argument as unprofessional and calls for remedial actions by the prosecutor’s office, but affirms the conviction . . . (see more) [Added 3/4/17]


Fees cannot be awarded based on a rejected proposal for settlement unless the proposal was served by email in compliance with Fla.R.Jud.Admin. 2.516 . . . (see more) [Added 3/3/17]


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 Amendment 7 adverse incident reports are not privileged under the Federal Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act . . . (see more) [Added 2/20/17]


A court was required to hold an evidentiary hearing when a convicted defendant petitioned for a writ of mandamus to require appointed appellate counsel to provide him with the record on appeal and relevant trial transcripts . . . (see more) [Added 2/18/17]


Appellate counsel’s duty to keep abreast of changes in the law has limits, rules the First DCA in rejecting an ineffective assistance of counsel claim . . . (see more) [Added 2/16/17]


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 First DCA denies a certiorari petition seeking to stop post-trial juror interviews on the ground that the petitioner will not suffer irreparable harm if the interviews take place . . . (see more) [Added 2/6/17]


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 First DCA warns lawyers that strict compliance with court orders is expected and violations will not be tolerated . . . (see more) [Added 1/30/17]


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]


The “significant issues” tests applies when a party seeks attorney’s fees as damages pursuant to F.S. 713.31(2)(c) in a construction lien case . . . (see more) [Added 1/16/17]


A convicted criminal defendant’s handwritten notes are not protected by the attorney-client privilege because they were not “communications” with counsel . . . (see more) [Added 1/6/17]


Knowingly false allegations in a complaint to the Commission on Ethics do not support a fee award for the prevailing public official unless they were “material” to a purported ethics violation . . . (see more) [Added 1/5/17]


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 Board of Governors approves rules that would allow lawyer spouses of active duty military personnel to practice in Florida for a limited time under certain conditions . . . (see more) [Added 12/30/16]


The Fourth DCA affirms a trial court’s determination that an hourly fee of $189.21 to respond to a public records request involving a ballot inspection was reasonable under the circumstances . . . (see more) [Added 12/29/16]


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 Bar petitions the Supreme Court for amendments to the law school practice program and the authorized house counsel rules . . . (see more) [Added 11/22/16]


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 amends the ethics rules to address technological competence and requires 3 CLE hours in technology every 3 years (increasing the total required CLE hours to 33 every 3 years) . . . (see more) [Added 9/29/16]


Florida International tops the state in general bar exam results for July 2016 . . . (see more) [Added 9/19/16]


The Board of Governors petitions the Supreme Court for approval of changes to the rules governing referral services and other entities that match potential clients with lawyers . . . (see more) [Added 8/16/16]


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]


The Supreme Court amends Rules Regulating The Florida Bar on lawyer discipline, confidentiality, trust accounting, professionalism, and others . . . (see more) [Added 6/12/15]


The Supreme Court approves “housekeeping” changes to the Rules of Professional Conduct regarding duties to prospective clients, misdirected electronic communications, and unauthorized practice of law . . . (see more) [Added 5/21/15]


The Board of Governors adopts “Professionalism Expectations” for Florida lawyers . . . (see more) [Added 2/3/15]