Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert blog Update which will discuss the approval of Ethics Opinions 12-1 and 12-2 by the Florida Bar Board of Governors of The Florida Bar at its meeting on December 7, 2012. Advisory Opinion 12-1 can also be viewed online at https://www.floridabar.org/tfb/TFBETOpin.nsf/b2b76d49e9fd64a5852570050067a7af/6a2611d9cdcc8db485257ad00070e3fb!OpenDocument and Advisory Opinion 12-2 can be viewed at https://www.floridabar.org/tfb/TFBETOpin.nsf/b2b76d49e9fd64a5852570050067a7af/4e9e9f5062025c5a85257ad00071b560!OpenDocument.
As I have stated in my previous Ethics Alerts, the Professional Ethics Committee of The Florida Bar, after extensive debate and review, issued proposed Advisory Opinion 12-1, which determined that it is unethical for a criminal defense lawyer to advise a client to accept a plea bargain that prevents the client from raising future claims of ineffective assistance of counsel or prosecutorial misconduct. The opinion also states that it is unethical for prosecutors to offer such a plea condition because it could induce defense attorneys to act unethically and is prejudicial to the administration of justice. The Florida Bar’s Board of Governors reviewed and approved the opinion at its meeting on 12/7/12 and it is now final.
The Florida Bar’s Board of Governors also approved proposed Advisory Opinion 12-2 at its meeting on 12/7/12 which opines that lawyers may permit non-lawyers to use the lawyer’s access credentials for filing documents with a court using the E-Portal. The executive summary states that “(t)he lawyer must properly supervise the nonlawyer, should monitor the nonlawyer’s use of the E-Portal, and should immediately change the lawyer’s password if the nonlawyer employee leaves the lawyer’s employ or shows untrustworthiness in use of the E-Portal.”
Bottom line: The controversial Advisory Opinion 12-1 and the not so controversial Advisory Opinion 12-2 are now final. As I have said in the past, Ethics Advisory Opinions are not binding or precedential; however, they can be and are used for guidance by lawyers and the basis for prosecution by The Florida Bar if they are not followed.
Be careful out there!
Disclaimer: this e-mail does not contain any legal advice and the comments herein should not be relied upon by anyone who reads it.
Joseph A. Corsmeier, Esquire
Law Office of Joseph A. Corsmeier, P.A.
2454 McMullen Booth Road, Suite 431
Clearwater, Florida 33759
Office (727) 799-1688
Fax (727) 799-1670