Opinions of the Judicial Ethics
Advisory Committee



2006


 

 Opinion
 Canon(s)
 Subject
 2006-01
5, 5D(2), 5G

1. Whether a recently appointed judge may sign a title insurance policy after taking the bench if the documents that make up the policy have been recorded before taking the bench and the effective date of the policy takes place before the judge takes the bench.

2. Whether a recently appointed judge may receive payment for title insurance policy work done prior to the date when the judge took the bench if the transaction is closed by another attorney after the date the judge takes the bench and the final policy is issued after that date.

3. Whether a recently appointed judge may change the status of his professional association to another legal entity in order to continue owning the building that housed the judge’s law practice.

4. Whether a recently appointed judge is required to change the status of his profesional corporation or dissolve it before taking the bench even though the professional association will be required to file an income tax return, issue w-2 forms and prepare other documents well after the date of taking the bench.

5. Whether a newly appointed judge may allow his former professional association’s operating account to remain open to receive payments for legal fees due for work done before taking the bench at a date after taking the bench.

 2006-02
5A, 5(D)3

1. Whether a senior judge subject to recall may work for a Florida newspaper, investigating and writing only human interest and sports articles.

2. Whether a senior judge subject to recall may work for a non-Florida newspaper, investigating and writing only human interest and sports articles.

3. Whether a senior judge subject to recall may own an interest in a weekly newspaper, either in Florida, or outside it, where that ownership interest will require the judge to manage the newspaper.

 2006-03
 

May a part-time child support enforcement hearing officer represent indigent prisoners who have filed post-conviction relief motions in the circuit in which the hearing officer presides?

 2006-04
4D, 5 and 5C(2); and Commentary to Canon 5C(2)

May a judge serve on a congressional district selection committee which will help select young people to be nominated to the various military academies?

 2006-05
3B(7)(d), 4D, 5F and Commentary to Canon 5C(3)(b)

I. Whether a judge who sits on a charitable organization’s “advisory board of directors,” may allow his name and position to be listed on the charitable organization’s letterhead, along with the names and positions, if any, of all of the other board members.

II. Whether a judge can also be a member of the bars of the United States District Court  for the Middle District of Florida and United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, albeit without practicing in federal court while on the state bench.

III. Whether a judge can remain a Certified Circuit Court Mediator, albeit without practicing as a mediator while on the bench.

 2006-06
4B, 5D(5)(a), and 5D(5)(h); and Commentary to Canons 4B and 5D(5)(a)

May judges attend the annual holiday party hosted by the guardian ad litem program, honoring its volunteers?

 2006-07
2B, 5A, 5F

Whether it is proper for a judge to be interviewed by lawyers and their clients regarding the findings and conclusions made by an arbitration panel that the inquiring judge served upon prior to becoming a judge.

 2006-08
Preamble, Canon 7, Canon 7A(1)(a)

1. Must a person resign as pro bono advisor to a local political party executive committee upon “pre-qualifying” as a candidate for judicial office, or may the person wait until the formal qualifying period in May?

2.  May a person, attempting to qualify using the petition process, accept the assistance of a political party in obtaining signatures on the petition?

 2006-09

2(B), 4(D), 4(D)(1)(a), 4(D)(1)(b), 4(D)(2), 5(C)(3)(b)

May a judge, who was formerly a staff attorney with a legal services organization, submit a congratulatory message to be included in an advertisement for an upcoming commemorative event?

 2006-10

2(B)

Whether the inquiring judge may assent to a congratulatory announcement in the Florida Bar News by his/her former law firm pertaining to the inquiring judge’s recent appointment to the bench.

Whether the inquiring judge may assent to mailing by his/her former law firm a congratulatory announcement to clients of the law firm pertaining to the inquiring judge’s recent appointment to the bench.

 2006-11

7

May a judge authorize placement of a campaign sign supporting a partisan political candidate in the yard of a residence jointly owned by the judge and the judge’s spouse?

May a judge authorize placement of a campaign sign supporting a partisan political candidate on an automobile occasionally operated by the judge and  jointly owned by the judge and the judge’s spouse?

May a judge operate an automobile solely owned by the judge’s spouse which displays a sign supporting a partisan political candidate?

 2006-12

2B, 5G

Whether it is proper for a judge who, while an assistant state attorney, prosecuted a murder case, to meet with the current state attorney to discuss claims made by the defendant in a motion to vacate judgment and sentence pursuant to Rule 3.850, Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure.

2006-13
(Elections)
7, 7A

May a judge facing a contested election include a family picture in campaign advertising even though the judge's spouse also holds political office?

May the same judge’s spouse accompany the judge to campaign appearances?

2006-13
(Elections)
Amended
7, 7A

May a judge facing a contested election include a family picture in campaign advertising even though the inquiring judge’s spouse is also a judge?

May the same judge's spouse accompany the judge to campaign appearances?

2006-14
2B

May a judge permit the owner of a documentary film about a reading instruction program to use an interview of the judge in the documentary film when the documentary film will be marketed commercially and will be used in a marketing campaign for a reading instruction program?

2006-15
(Elections)
7

Whether the inquiring judge/candidate may attend either of two candidate round ups, sponsored by a local political party’s women’s federation, if no one is invited to speak at one event, but candidates are invited to speak at the second event.

2006-16
(Elections)
 

May a candidate for judicial office employ the title “magistrate” when describing prior service even though that term was not in use during a substantial portion of the candidate’s term?  

May a candidate for judicial office publicize photos showing the candidate wearing a judicial robe, where this privilege was extended to magistrates in the candidate’s circuit?

May a candidate for judicial office use the word “preside” to describe the nature of the candidate’s duties as a magistrate?

May a candidate for judicial office who has served as an adjunct professor of law employ the term “part-time law professor?”

2006-17
 2B, 4A(1), 4B, 4D & Commentary to Canon 4D(1)

May a judge who has been asked by the local Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) chapter  participate in a panel discussion on the problem of underage drinking.

If not permitted to participate on the panel, may a judge attend the event?

2006-18
(Elections)
 3B(9), 4B and 7A(3)(d)(i)

May a candidate for judicial office respond to questionnaires which cover such subjects as same-sex marriage, parental notification, and school vouchers, and whether the candidate agrees or disagrees with recent court decisions?

2006-19
(Elections)
1, 2A, 7A(1)(d), 7B(2), 7C(2), 7C(3),  7D and Commentary to Canon 2A

Whether the inquiring judge who is not seeking election may attend a “nonpartisan” political function, sponsored by a political party, in order to socialize and listen to the political candidates’ speeches?

2006-20
(Elections)
3B(12)

May a judge standing for re-election incorporate favorable remarks from juror questionnaires in campaign literature?

2006-21
(Elections)
7

May a judicial candidate accept and advertise an endorsement from an elected partisan official acting in the official’s individuals capacity?

2006-22
1, 2,  2A, 3B, 3B(1), 3B(8), 5D(5), 6A and Commentary to 3B(8)

May a judge accept pro rata reimbursement from litigants who agree to pay for expenses incurred while presiding over depositions conducted in a foreign country?

2006-23
5, 5(B), 5(C) and Commentary to Canon 5

May a judge serve as a member of a county’s affordable housing advisory board and as a board member of a county’s public policy institute, which appoints members to the affordable housing advisory board?

2006-24
5C(2); 5E; 5F; 6A; 7; 7A; 7A(1)(b); 7A(3)(c); 7B; Application of the Code of Judicial Conduct, Section B

1. May a candidate for judicial office obtain loans from a parent or other family member in amounts exceeding $500.00 per person?

2.  May a candidate for judicial office use the endorsement of a current partisan officer holder, or the endorsement of a partisan candidate who was unsuccessful in a recent primary, in advertisements?

3.  May a candidate for judicial office use the endorsement of a retired judge in advertisements?

2006-25
7, 7A(1)(b), 7A(1)(d), 7B(2), 7C(2), 7C(3) and 7D

May a judge who is not a candidate for re-election or retention attend a community-sponsored, nonpartisan function, in order to socialize and listen to the candidates’ speeches?

2006-26
3E(1), 3F, and Commentary to Canon 3F

Is a judge’s disqualification required if a member of the law firm in which the judge’s son is employed as an attorney appears as counsel in a case before the judge?

2006-27
3E(1), 3F, and Commentary to Canon 3F

Is disqualification required if the judge’s son’s law firm represents a party in a family law case and the parties in that family law case have a child appearing before the judge in a delinquency case? Although  the inquiring judge will not be the presiding judge in the family law case, the inquiring judge’s court utilizes a unified family court concept.

2006-28
2, 2A, 4A, 5, 5A, 5A(1),  5C(2), 5C(3), 5C(3)(a) & (b), 5C(3)(b)(i) &(iii) and Commentary to Canon 5A

Whether a newly elected judge may continue to serve as a volunteer on the mounted unit of the sheriff’s department of one of the counties in the judge’s circuit.

Whether a newly elected judge may continue to serve as a volunteer member and officer of the board of directors of a not-for-profit rural health clinic funded primarily by federal grants, when the board does not participate in fundraising and there is a separate board that is focused on fundraising.

Whether a newly elected judge may join the foundation board for a hospice facility in the judge’s circuit if the judge is not directly involved in fund-raising, even though the judge’s name will be used on the letterhead of the organization.

Whether a newly elected judge may continue to serve as a volunteer on a county domestic violence task team within the judge’s jurisdiction which is chaired by the executive director of the local domestic violence shelter.

Whether a newly elected judge may continue to serve as a volunteer on a county sheriff’s sexual assault response team, when it is possible that the judge will be assigned felony cases on an as-needed basis in the event of conflicts of other judges within the circuit.

2006-29
5A, 4A and Commentary to Canon 5C(2)

May a judge join the Florida Highway Patrol Auxiliary (FHPA) and serve in a purely administrative capacity with the auxiliary?

2006-30
4B & 5B

May a sitting judge speak to various community groups including parent/teacher organizations regarding the dangers of online predators?

2006-31
5D,  5D(3) & 5G

May a judge and the judge’s former law partner continue to maintain a partnership account after the judge assumes office, for purposes of receiving fees due the partnership for work done before the judge’s election?

2006-32
2B, 3, 5A, 5D(1) and 5D(4)

1.  Is a judicial assistant subject to the code of judicial conduct?

2.  Does a judge have an obligation to direct the judge’s judicial assistant not to accept employment cleaning the offices of attorneys who have appeared or are likely to  appear before the judge?

3.  Must a judge disclose the judicial assistant’s employment to counsel and litigants?