SUBJECT: Collection of attorney's fee in a case
handled by an attorney prior to his
becoming a judge
The inquiring judge wishes to collect an attorney's fee based upon work performed in a personal injury case from 1988 until he became a judge in 1990. The judge was actively involved in the claim during those years, but the claim did not settle until very recently.
This Committee has consistently held that a judge may collect a fee earned prior to assuming the bench, as long as the computation is based on traditional standards. Opinion 91-8; see also Opinions 94-7, 95-11. As long as the fee is scrupulously calculated based upon legal services the judge performed on behalf of the client prior to assuming the bench, and the applicable requirements of The Florida Bar Rules of Professional Conduct are satisfied, no impropriety appears, and the judge may collect the fee.
The committee is expressly charged with rendering advisory opinions interpreting the application of the Code of Judicial Conduct to specific circumstances confronting or affecting a judge or judicial candidate. Its opinions are advisory to the inquiring party, to the Judicial Qualifications Commission and to the judiciary at large. Conduct that is consistent with an advisory opinion issued by the committee may be evidence of good faith on the part of the judge, but the Judicial Qualifications Commission is not bound by the interpretive opinions issued by the committee. Petition of the Committee on Standards of Conduct for Judges, 327 So.2d 5 (Fla.1976).
Dated the 20th day of March, 1997.
Charles J. Kahn, Jr.
Chairman, Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
Participation Members: Judges Cardonne, Green, C. Kahn, L. Kahn, Patterson, Rushing, Silverman, Smith, Tolton and Attorney Novicki
cc: All Committee Members
Office of the State Courts Administrator (name of judge deleted from this copy)