The below links guide attorney behavior. The Court can sanction lawyers who violate the rules of professional conduct.
- Florida Bar Guidelines for Professional Conduct
- Florida Bar Rules of Professional Conduct (Chapter 4 of Florida Bar Rules)
RULE 4-3.1 MERITORIOUS CLAIMS AND CONTENTIONS A lawyer shall not bring or defend a proceeding, or assert or controvert an issue therein, unless there is a basis in law and fact for doing so that is not frivolous, which includes a good faith argument for an extension, modification, or reversal of existing law. A lawyer for the defendant in a criminal proceeding, or the respondent in a proceeding that could result in incarceration, may nevertheless so defend the proceeding as to require that every element of the case be established.
RULE 4-3.2 EXPEDITING LITIGATION A lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to expedite litigation consistent with the interests of the client.
RULE 4-3.3 CANDOR TOWARD THE TRIBUNAL (a) False Evidence; Duty to Disclose. A lawyer shall not knowingly: (1) make a false statement of fact or law to a tribunal or fail to correct a false statement of material fact or law previously made to the tribunal by the lawyer; RRTFB September 19, 2019 (2) fail to disclose a material fact to a tribunal when disclosure is necessary to avoid assisting a criminal or fraudulent act by the client; (3) fail to disclose to the tribunal legal authority in the controlling jurisdiction known to the lawyer to be directly adverse to the position of the client and not disclosed by opposing counsel; or (4) offer evidence that the lawyer knows to be false. A lawyer may not offer testimony that the lawyer knows to be false in the form of a narrative unless so ordered by the tribunal. If a lawyer, the lawyer’s client, or a witness called by the lawyer has offered material evidence and the lawyer comes to know of its falsity, the lawyer shall take reasonable remedial measures including, if necessary, disclosure to the tribunal. A lawyer may refuse to offer evidence that the lawyer reasonably believes is false. (b) Criminal or Fraudulent Conduct. A lawyer who represents a client in an adjudicative proceeding and who knows that a person intends to engage, is engaging, or has engaged in criminal or fraudulent conduct related to the proceeding shall take reasonable remedial measures, including, if necessary, disclosure to the tribunal. (c) Ex Parte Proceedings. In an ex parte proceeding a lawyer shall inform the tribunal of all material facts known to the lawyer that will enable the tribunal to make an informed decision, whether or not the facts are adverse. (d) Extent of Lawyer’s Duties. The duties stated in this rule continue beyond the conclusion of the proceeding and apply even if compliance requires disclosure of information otherwise protected by rule 4-1.6.
RULE 4-3.4 FAIRNESS TO OPPOSING PARTY AND COUNSEL A lawyer must not: (a) unlawfully obstruct another party’s access to evidence or otherwise unlawfully alter, destroy, or conceal a document or other material that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know is relevant to a pending or a reasonably foreseeable proceeding; nor counsel or assist another person to do any such act; (b) fabricate evidence, counsel or assist a witness to testify falsely, or offer an inducement to a witness, except a lawyer may pay a witness reasonable expenses incurred by the witness in attending or testifying at proceedings; a reasonable, noncontingent fee for professional services of an expert witness; and reasonable compensation to a witness for the time spent preparing for, attending, or testifying at proceedings; (c) knowingly disobey an obligation under the rules of a tribunal except for an open refusal based on an assertion that no valid obligation exists; (d) in pretrial procedure, make a frivolous discovery request or intentionally fail to comply with a legally proper discovery request by an opposing party; (e) in trial, state a personal opinion about the credibility of a witness unless the statement is authorized by current rule or case law, allude to any matter that the lawyer does not reasonably believe is relevant or that will not be supported by admissible evidence, assert personal knowledge of facts in issue except when testifying as a witness, or state a personal opinion as to the justness of a cause, the culpability of a civil litigant, or the guilt or innocence of an accused; (f) request a person other than a client to refrain from voluntarily giving relevant information to another party unless the person is a relative or an employee or other agent of a RRTFB September 19, 2019 client, and it is reasonable to believe that the person’s interests will not be adversely affected by refraining from giving such information; (g) present, participate in presenting, or threaten to present criminal charges solely to obtain an advantage in a civil matter; or (h) present, participate in presenting, or threaten to present disciplinary charges under these rules solely to obtain an advantage in a civil matter.
RULE 4-3.5 IMPARTIALITY AND DECORUM OF THE TRIBUNAL (a) Influencing Decision Maker. A lawyer shall not seek to influence a judge, juror, prospective juror, or other decision maker except as permitted by law or the rules of court. (b) Communication with Judge or Official. In an adversary proceeding a lawyer shall not communicate or cause another to communicate as to the merits of the cause with a judge or an official before whom the proceeding is pending except: (1) in the course of the official proceeding in the cause; (2) in writing if the lawyer promptly delivers a copy of the writing to the opposing counsel or to the adverse party if not represented by a lawyer; (3) orally upon notice to opposing counsel or to the adverse party if not represented by a lawyer; or (4) as otherwise authorized by law. (c) Disruption of Tribunal. A lawyer shall not engage in conduct intended to disrupt a tribunal. (d) Communication With Jurors. A lawyer shall not: (1) before the trial of a case with which the lawyer is connected, communicate or cause another to communicate with anyone the lawyer knows to be a member of the venire from which the jury will be selected; (2) during the trial of a case with which the lawyer is connected, communicate or cause another to communicate with any member of the jury; (3) during the trial of a case with which the lawyer is not connected, communicate or cause another to communicate with a juror concerning the case; (4) after dismissal of the jury in a case with which the lawyer is connected, initiate communication with or cause another to initiate communication with any juror regarding the trial except to determine whether the verdict may be subject to legal challenge; provided, a lawyer may not interview jurors for this purpose unless the lawyer has reason to believe that grounds for such challenge may exist; and provided further, before conducting any such interview the lawyer must file in the cause a notice of intention to interview setting forth the name of the juror or jurors to be interviewed. A copy of the notice must be delivered to the trial judge and opposing counsel a reasonable time before such interview. The provisions of this rule do not prohibit a lawyer from communicating with members of the venire or jurors in the course of official proceedings or as authorized by court rule or written order of the court.
RULE 4-3.6 TRIAL PUBLICITY (a) Prejudicial Extrajudicial Statements Prohibited. A lawyer shall not make an extrajudicial statement that a reasonable person would expect to be disseminated by means of public communication if the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that it will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding due to its creation of an imminent and substantial detrimental effect on that proceeding. (b) Statements of Third Parties. A lawyer shall not counsel or assist another person to make such a statement. Counsel shall exercise reasonable care to prevent investigators, employees, or other persons assisting in or associated with a case from making extrajudicial statements that are prohibited under this rule.
RULE 4-3.7 LAWYER AS WITNESS (a) When Lawyer May Testify. A lawyer shall not act as advocate at a trial in which the lawyer is likely to be a necessary witness on behalf of the client unless: (1) the testimony relates to an uncontested issue; (2) the testimony will relate solely to a matter of formality and there is no reason to believe that substantial evidence will be offered in opposition to the testimony; (3) the testimony relates to the nature and value of legal services rendered in the case; or (4) disqualification of the lawyer would work substantial hardship on the client. (b) Other Members of Law Firm as Witnesses. A lawyer may act as advocate in a trial in which another lawyer in the lawyer’s firm is likely to be called as a witness unless precluded from doing so by rule 4-1.7 or 4-1.9.
RULE 4-3.8 SPECIAL RESPONSIBILITIES OF A PROSECUTOR The prosecutor in a criminal case shall: (a) refrain from prosecuting a charge that the prosecutor knows is not supported by probable cause; (b) not seek to obtain from an unrepresented accused a waiver of important pre-trial rights such as a right to a preliminary hearing; (c) make timely disclosure to the defense of all evidence or information known to the prosecutor that tends to negate the guilt of the accused or mitigates the offense, and, in connection with sentencing, disclose to the defense and to the tribunal all unprivileged mitigating RRTFB September 19, 2019 information known to the prosecutor, except when the prosecutor is relieved of this responsibility by a protective order of the tribunal.