CEO 75-133 -- June 23, 1975
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
PUBLIC DEFENDER REPRESENTING PRIVATE CLIENT IN SUIT AGAINST THE CITY HE SERVES
To: Richard A. Krause, Public Defender, Ormond Beach
Prepared by: Carol Ann Turner
A public defender who is appointed approximately once every 3 months to defend an indigent in court does not violate the Code of Ethics by representing, in his private capacity, a client in a suit against the city he serves. Because such suit is civil in nature while his duties as public defender are confined to criminal causes of action, there is no violation of s. 112.313(5), F. S. (1974 Supp.), which prohibits outside employment which is in conflict with public duty.
Would a conflict of interest exist if I, a municipal public defender in Ormond Beach, undertook the representation of a private client in a civil suit against the City of Ormond Beach?
Your question is answered in the negative.
As an employee of the state, you are subject to the provisions of s. 112.313(5), F. S. (1974 Supp.), which states in part:
. . . nor shall an officer or employee of an agency accept other employment that will create a conflict between his private interests and the performance of his public duties, or will impede the full and faithful discharge of his public duties . .
You have informed us that as Public Defender of Ormond Beach, you are appointed approximately once every 3 months to defend an indigent in court and you are paid on a case-by-case basis. You have further informed us that you have been requested to represent a prospective client in a personal injury suit against the City of Ormond Beach. Because such a suit is civil in nature, while your duties as public defender are confined to criminal causes of action, we are of the opinion that no conflict would arise out of your representation of a private person in a civil litigation.