Immunity for Local Panels
The Florida Supreme Court has granted civil immunity to all members and staffers serving on the newly enacted Local Professionalism Panels in each circuit across the state. The Local Professionalism Panels took effect in September 2014 pursuant to the Florida Supreme Court Administrative Order and have been hearing and resolving professionalism complaints. The dispositions of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit's Local Professionalism Panel are available in past (and forthcoming) issues of the DCBA Bulletin, as well as the Eleventh Judicial Circuit's website. See https://www.jud11.flcourts.org/SCSingle.aspx?pid=693.
The Court noted that the Local Professionalism Panels and Code of Professionalism provide "a process to address attorney professionalism issues at a crucial point, which is the local level." See In re Code for Resolving Professionalism Complaints, No. SC15–75, 2015 WL 357969, at *1 (Fla. Jan. 29, 2015). On its motion, the Court amended the Code "by adding Section 4, 'Immunity,' to provide immunity from civil liability to members of the Local Professionalism Panels and members of the Circuit Committees on Professionalism, as well as to staff persons for these entities, for all acts performed in the course of their official duties. Id. (citing R. Regulating Fla. Bar 10-10.1 (Immunity); R. Regulating Fla. Bar 14-7.1(a)(Immunity)). The Court noted that interested persons shall have sixty (60) days from the date of the opinion (on or before March 30, 2015) in which to file comments with the Court. Id.
The Professionalism Expectations have recently been approved, replacing the Ideals and Goals of Professionalism. The ideals, tenants, and guidance contained therein derive from the ethical duties established by the Florida Supreme Court in the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar as well as the time-honored norms of fairness, civility, and honor in the practice of law in Florida. The Florida Bar Standing Committee on Professionalism defines professionalism as "the pursuit and practice of the highest ideals and tenets of the legal profession. It embraces far more than simply complying with the minimal standards of professional conduct. The essential ingredients of professionalism are character, competence, commitment, and civility." The Preamble emphasizes "[a]s the Florida Bar grows, it becomes more important to articulate the bar's professionalism expectations and for Florida lawyers to demonstrate these expectations in practice." The expectations include: 1) commitment to equal justice under the law and to the public good; 2) honest and effective communication; 3) adherence to a fundamental sense of honor, integrity, and fair play; 4) fair and efficient administration of justice; 5) decorum and courtesy; 6) respect for the time and commitment of others; and 7) independence of judgment. The expectations are also modernized to account for new technological concepts and electronic communications. For more information visit www.FloridaBar.org/professionalism.
Originally published in Dade County Bar Association Bulletin, March 2015.
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