Why Are Florida’s Attorneys Practicing in “Fear”?

Tallahassee, FL—In 2015, the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission found Florida’s 2nd Judicial Circuit Judge Jackie Jackie Fulford to have shown “a pattern of misconduct.” The JQC investigation uncovered, in part, that Fulford used her position to solicit an attorney pro bono services stating in their findings, “Your solicitation of the attorney to perform these services was an inappropriate use of your position, and a violation of Canons.”  The attorney whom Judge Fulford solicited told the JQC “ he feared that if he did not accept the pro bono representation, it might result in an adverse ruling on his pending motion.” Instead of the JQC moving forward with disciplinary actions against Fulford, the JQC recommended “involuntary retirement” for Fulford to the Florida Supreme Court.

It is clear that Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission operates as an independent agency, created by the Florida Constitution solely to investigate misconduct by Florida state judges. Not so, for The Florida Bar, that is regulated by the Florida Supreme Court.

Article V, Section 15 of the Constitution of the State of Florida gives the Supreme Court of Florida exclusive and ultimate authority to regulate the admission…and the discipline of those persons who are admitted to practice… The Florida Bar is the investigative and prosecutorial authority in the lawyer regulatory process.

 The JQC is made up of fifteen members—of those members some are judges and attorneys. Through DUE DILIGENCE it is the responsibility of those members to inform The Florida Bar of Jackie Fulford’s “pattern of misconduct.” The JQC refusing to report Fulford’s “pattern of misconduct” is a violation of The Florida Bar Rule of Professional Conduct: Rule 4-8.3.

Rule of Professional Conduct: Rule 4-8.3 a) Reporting misconduct of other lawyers: A lawyer having knowledge that another lawyer has committed a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct that raises a substantial question as to that lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects shall inform the appropriate professional authority.

  1. b) Reporting misconduct of judges: A lawyer having knowledge that a judge has committed a violation of applicable rules of judicial conduct that raises a substantial question as to the judge’s fitness for office shall inform the appropriate authority.

The Rules that are in place to protect all attorneys and consumers set by the Florida Supreme Court should be fully enforced. No attorney should practice in “fear” leading to the attorney to participate in acts of misconduct—“fear” of a judge’s “adverse” ruling against their client—as it is documented.

Author: MAUL10

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