We hope that the information found here will help you understand the role of the City Attorney, and navigate links to the City Charter, City Code and other federal, state and local agencies that can provide you with more legal information.
The function of City Attorney for the Nation’s Oldest City has evolved from its inception as a military outpost, through Spanish and British colonial systems, and eventually American territorial control. Although originally a function of the duties of a military officer, the role of City Attorney eventually mirrored the contemporary usage of the American practice of law. The City Attorney function was performed by various retained private counsel until 1995, when Jim Wilson was hired as the first full-time City Attorney for St. Augustine. In 2014, the City Commission appointed Isabelle Lopez, then the Assistant City Attorney under Ron Brown, the first female City Attorney for the City of St. Augustine.
(photograph of City Attorneys Jim Wilson, Isabelle Lopez, and Ron Brown)
Dates of Service as City Attorney:
James P. Wilson: January 1995 – January 2007
Ronald W. Brown: January 2007 – September 2014
Isabelle C. Lopez: September 2014 – Current
Office of the City Attorney
The City of St. Augustine Charter of 1925 provides that the City Commission shall appoint a City Attorney to act as the legal adviser to, and attorney and counselor for, the municipality and all of its officers in matters relating to their official duties. Our City Attorney is Isabelle C. Lopez.
As the City Attorney, Ms. Lopez provides the City Commission, its boards and committees, as well as City staff, with a wide range of legal representation on issues ranging from contracts to constitutional law. The City Attorney attends all meetings of the City Commission, Historic Architectural Review Board, Planning and Zoning Board, and the Corridor Review Committee. The City Attorney also prosecutes criminal and non-criminal City ordinance violations in the County Court system.
Assistant City Attorney
The Assistant City Attorney serves as the primary advisor to the St. Augustine Police Department, Code Enforcement, Adjustments, and Appeals Board, the General Employees' Retirement Board, the Police Officers' Retirement Fund Board, the Lincolnville CRA Steering Committee, and the Street Tree Advisory Committee. The Assistant City Attorney also provides legal support for events review and the weekly development review committee. In matters of prosecuting criminal and civil violations of municipal ordinances, the Assistant City Attorney is responsible for the entire process - from drafting motions and representing the City at trial, to filing post-trial motions and appeals. The Assistant City Attorney also supports the work of the City Attorney as assigned.
The City Attorney can only represent and advise the City of St. Augustine government. The City Attorney cannot provide residents or other private citizens with legal advice and representation.
The City Attorney’s office is supported by our paralegal, Shanna Lee, who assists in litigation, ordinance and resolution drafting and editing, statutory compliance, Florida trademark submittals, and Public Records management, as well as, general office and administrative duties.
Use of City Seal
Use of the City Seal is prohibited without the consent and written authorization of the City Commission pursuant to Section 2-1 of the City Code. Further, unauthorized use is punishable under Florida Statute 165.043 as a second-degree misdemeanor.
If you are planning to attend a public hearing at the City, you may want to read the frequently asked questions beforehand.
Please remember that we value everyone’s input and ask that you participate with civility in conformance with Resolution 2015-36.
Resolution 2020-39, known as the re-organizational resolution, contains the order of business, meeting and appeal procedures, and administrative policies for the City Commission and its boards and committees.
Attorneys are expected to comply with Florida Bar Rules of Professional Conduct 4-4.2:
- Florida Bar Rules of Professional Conduct 4-4.2 (DOCX)
- Florida Bar Rules of Professional Conduct 4-4.2 (PDF)
In the case of a represented organization, this rule prohibits communications with a constituent of the organization who supervises, directs, or regularly consults with the organization’s lawyer concerning the matter or has authority to obligate the organization with respect to the matter or whose act or omission in connection with the matter may be imputed to the organization for purposes of civil or criminal liability (…) In communication with a current or former constituent of an organization, a lawyer must not use methods of obtaining evidence that violate the legal rights of the organization. See rule 4-4.4.
The City Attorney cannot represent you personally. If you are in need of legal representation, please retain private counsel. The Florida Bar provides a referral service at 850-561-5600 or you may visit the Florida Bar website. You can also visit the Jacksonville Area Legal Services website, or the local office of:
St. Johns County Legal Aid
222 San Marco Avenue
St. Augustine, FL 32084
They can be reached at 904-827-9921 or 877-827-9921 toll-free.