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 Leaks to Media and Others

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Orlando, Florida
Orlando, Florida

PostSubject: Leaks to Media and Others   Fri Jul 31, 2009 5:28 am

Leaks to Media and Others
One of the most perplexing aspects of this case is the information that seems to leak more than a spaghetti strainer. Some of this has been attributed to law enforcement leaks, and other information is attributed to attorneys who are or have been involved speaking inappropriately to various third parties about the case.

A visit to the Florida Bar website helped to clarify some ethical and procedural rules governing the profession. http://www.floridabar.org/

For instance;

From the Preamble of the Rules of Professional Conduct, a few passages....

As a representative of clients, a lawyer performs various functions. As an adviser, a lawyer provides a client with an informed understanding of the client's legal rights and obligations and explains their practical implications. As an advocate, a lawyer zealously asserts the client's position under the rules of the adversary system. As a negotiator, a lawyer seeks a result advantageous to the client but consistent with requirements of honest dealing with others. As an evaluator, a lawyer acts by examining a client's legal affairs and reporting about them to the client or to others.

In all professional functions a lawyer should be competent, prompt, and diligent. A lawyer should maintain communication with a client concerning the representation. A lawyer should keep in confidence information relating to representation of a client except so far as disclosure is required or permitted by the Rules of Professional Conduct or by law.

A lawyer's conduct should conform to the requirements of the law, both in professional service to clients and in the lawyer's business and personal affairs. A lawyer should use the law's procedures only for legitimate purposes and not to harass or intimidate others. A lawyer should demonstrate respect for the legal system and for those who serve it, including judges, other lawyers, and public officials.



A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.

Perhaps no professional shortcoming is more widely resented than procrastination. A client's interests often can be adversely affected by the passage of time or the change of conditions; in extreme instances, as when a lawyer overlooks a statute of limitations, the client's legal position may be destroyed. Even when the client's interests are not affected in substance, however, unreasonable delay can cause a client needless anxiety and undermine confidence in the lawyer.


(a) Consent Required to Reveal Information. A lawyer shall not reveal information relating to representation of a client except as stated in subdivisions (b), (c), and (d), unless the client gives informed consent.

A fundamental principle in the client-lawyer relationship is that, in the absence of the client's informed consent, the lawyer must not reveal information relating to the representation. See terminology for the definition of informed consent. This contributes to the trust that is the hallmark of the client-lawyer relationship.

The confidentiality rule applies not merely to matters communicated in confidence by the client but also to all information relating to the representation, whatever its source. A lawyer may not disclose such information except as authorized or required by the Rules of Professional Conduct or by law.

After withdrawal the lawyer is required to refrain from making disclosure of the client's confidences, except as otherwise provided in rule 4-1.6.

The duty of confidentiality continues after the client-lawyer relationship has terminated. See rule 4-1.9 for the prohibition against using such information to the disadvantage of the former client.

From rule 4-1.9

Lawyers owe confidentiality obligations to former clients, and thus information acquired by the lawyer in the course of representing a client may not subsequently be used by the lawyer to the disadvantage of the client without the former client's consent.


In the course of representing a client a lawyer shall not knowingly:

(a) make a false statement of material fact or law to a third person;

I recommend that anyone who is interested in better understanding the rules governing the practice of law in Florida visit http://www.floridabar.org/

There is a public information page on the Florida Bar website that details the procedures for reporting attorney misconduct.
Our Client Assistance program is called the Attorney Consumer Assistance Program (ACAP). ACAP is the department that handles client complaints and even can resolve some problems before a complaint is filed. Call the ACAP Hotline - 866/352-0707.
If you believe an attorney has acted unethically or if you are not aware of your own rights or obligations when dealing with an attorney, please read the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section of the Attorney Consumer Assistance Program.
ACAP Hotline - 866/352-0707

In addition to urging my readers to report any information concerning the whereabouts of Haleigh Cummings to the proper authorities, I also urge you to report any possible professional misconduct on the part of the attorneys involved in this case to the Florida Bar Association.
Any information being disseminated about this case by the persons who are or were entrusted to assist the family of Haleigh Cummings can severely impair the investigation and must be repor
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