FLORIDA SUPREME COURT

Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee

Opinion Number: 2002-08 (Elections)1
Date of Issue: May 24, 2002

MAY A JUDICIAL CANDIDATE ATTEND A POLITICAL MEETING TO SOCIALIZE AND GREET THE PARTICIPANTS, BUT NOT SPEAK.

ISSUES

May a judicial candidate attend a political meeting to socialize and greet the participants, but not speak.

ANSWER: NO

FACTS

The inquiring candidate indicates that he and his opponent have been invited "to attend a political meeting and mix and mingle, ... stand in the doorway wearing a judicial candidate's badge for the purpose of greeting the delegates and informing them of his candidacy."

DISCUSSION

Canon 7A(1)(d)of the Florida Code of Judicial Conduct states:

"Except as authorized in sections 7B(2), 7C(2) and 7(C(3), a judge or judicial candidate for election or appointment to judicial office shall not ... attend political party functions..."

Canon 7C(3) of the Florida Code of Judicial Conduct states:

"A judicial candidate involved in an election ... may attend a political party function to speak on behalf of his or her candidacy or on a matter that relates to the law, the improvement of the legal system, or the administration of justice. The function must not be a fundraiser, and the invitation to speak must also include the other candidates, if any, for that office." (emphasis added)

The deciding factor in this inquiry is that no candidate will be afforded an opportunity to address the gathering. In Opinion 98-17 the Committee opined that a judicial candidate could attend a meeting of the Young Republican Club for a question and answer session because the candidate would speaking on the candidacy, conduct specifically permitted under the Code.

The Committee has dealt with this precise question in Opinion 90-16. In responding to an inquiry the committee decided that a judicial candidate may not to the premises upon which a political party is holding a political meeting for the purpose of meeting an greeting delegates where the candidate, and others, have not been invited for the purpose of speaking on behalf of the candidacy.

REFERENCES

Florida Code of Judicial Conduct Canons 7A(1)(d), 7B(2), 7C(2) and 7C(3).

Florida Supreme Court Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee Opinions 90-16 and 98-17

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The Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee is expressly charged with rendering advisory opinions interpreting the application of the Code of Judicial Conduct to specific circumstances confronting or affecting a judge or judicial candidate. Its opinions are advisory to the inquiring party, to the Judicial Qualifications Commission and to the judiciary at large. Conduct that is consistent with an advisory opinion issued by the Committee may be evidence of good faith on the part of the judge, but the Judicial Qualifications Commission is not bound by the interpretive opinions by the Committee. Petition of the Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges, 698 So.2d 834 (Fla. 1997). However, in reviewing the recommendations of the Judicial Qualification Commission for discipline, the Florida Supreme Court will consider conduct in accordance with a Committee opinion as evidence of good faith. Id.

For further information, contact The Honorable Scott J. Silverman, Chairman, Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee, The Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building, 1351 NW 12th St #712, Miami, FL 33125

Participating Members:
Judge Scott J. Silverman
Judge Jeffrey D. Swartz
Judge Phyllis Kotey
Judge Richard R. Townsend

Copies furnished to:
Chief Justice Peggy Quince
All Committee Members
All Members of the J.Q.C.
Office of the State Courts Administrator (Name of inquiring judge deleted from this copy)

1. The Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee has appointed an Election Practices Subcommittee. The purposes of this subcommittee is to give immediate responses to campaign questions instances where the normal Committee procedure would not provide a responses in time to be useful to the inquiring candidate or judge. Opinions designated with the "(Election)" notation are opinions of the Election Practices Subcommittee of the Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee.