Thursday, February 7, 2013
A recent opinion from the Florida Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee concludes that a judge need not be recused from matters involving a law firm with which he had explored representation:
Here, the inquiring judge consulted an attorney from a very large law firm about a possible claim. The claim was investigated but no lawsuit was ever filed and nothing came of the consultation. That was a year ago. No social relationship has developed between the inquiring judge and the attorney whom the judge consulted or the attorney’s firm. The Committee unanimously opines that the inquiring judge need not recuse automatically from any cases in which the attorney or that firm files an appearance.
The opinion was not unanimous:
Nine members of the Committee opine that the need to disclose the inquiring judge’s consultation with the attorney/law firm, in cases where either the attorney or the law firm appears before the judge, must be decided on a case-by-case basis based on the factors stated above. Three members of the Committee opine that the judge should be required to disclose the consultation for a reasonable period of time.