Opinions of the Judicial Ethics
Advisory Committee



2010


 

 Opinion
 Canon(s)
 Subject
2010-01
2A, 2B, 5A, 5D(1)(a)

Whether a judge may rent a room in the judge’s home to a non-related individual who is on community control.

2010-02
3E(1), 3E(1)(c), 3F, 5, 5A, 5D(1), 5D(1)(b), 5D(4)

Whether the Florida Code of Judicial Conduct requires disqualification of the judge from all cases in which the county is a party and is represented by the County Attorney's staff, where the judge is a partner in a building partnership with the County Attorney.

Whether disqualification is required when the county is represented by outside counsel.

2010-03
4A(1), 4A(5), 4D

Whether a judge can hold the offices of Vice-President and  President of a local chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocacy.

2010-04
2B and 3C(2)

Whether the Inquiring Judge should require the judge’s judicial assistant to refrain from adding lawyers who may appear before the judge as “friends” on a social networking site.

2010-05
3E(1)(f) and 7

Whether a candidate for judicial office may add lawyers who may appear before the candidate, if elected judge, as “friends” on a social networking site, and permit such lawyers to add the candidate as their “friend”.

2010-06
2A, 2B, 3E, Commentary to 2A, Commentary to Canon 3E(1)

(1) Whether the Code of Judicial Conduct requires a judge who is a member of a voluntary bar association to “de-friend” lawyers who are also members on that organization’s Facebook page and who use Facebook to communicate among themselves about that organization and other non-legal matters.

(2) Whether a judge may allow an attorney access to the judge’s personal social networking page as a “friend” if the judge sends a communication to all attorney “friends” or posts a permanent, prominent disclaimer on the judge’s Facebook profile page that the term “friend” should be interpreted to simply mean that the person is an acquaintance of the judge, not a “friend” in the traditional sense.

(3) If a judge accepts as “friends” all attorneys who request to be included or all persons whose names the judge recognizes, and others whose names the judge does not recognize but who share a number of common friends, whether attorneys who may appear before the judge may be accepted by the judge as “friends” on the judge’s Facebook page.  

2010-07
4A, 4D, 5, 5A, 5C(3)(a)

Whether a circuit judge presiding in a criminal division may continue to serve as a member of the board of directors for a non-profit organization which provides a pre-trial diversion program as well as social services for juveniles.

2010-08
2

1. Whether an impropriety or appearance of impropriety would exist if a judge were to serve as the chief judge in a judicial circuit while being in a committed relationship with one of the general magistrates serving in that circuit when the judge serving as the chief judge had no role or influence in the hiring of said general magistrate.

2. If the answer to question number one is "yes," whether the impropriety or appearance of impropriety continue to exist if the judge's first act upon becoming chief judge in the circuit was to execute an administrative order formally transitioning all supervisory authority over all of the general magistrates to another circuit court judge.

2010-09
2A, 2B, 3B(5), 3E(1)(d)(ii), 3F

Whether a judge married to the elected public defender in the judge’s circuit may preside over cases to which the public defender is assigned in the juvenile and mental health divisions, if private attorneys handle the cases under case-by-case contracts, and the public defender does not exercise any supervisory authority over those attorneys.

2010-10
2B, 5C(3)(b)(i) and (iii)

Whether it is ethically permissible under the Florida Code of Judicial Conduct for a judge to allow a probationer to complete a course sponsored by a private, for-profit organization, in exchange for waiving all or part of any community service ordered as part of the probationer’s sentence.

2010-11
5D(1)(a), 5D(5) and 6B(2)

(1) Whether a judge may retain an attorney and negotiate a reduction from the attorney’s usual rate.

(2) Whether a judge must report any fee discount or reduction as a gift.

(3) Whether a judge may accept from a former employer partial reimbursement of attorney’s fees incurred by the judge in connection with the judge’s former employment.

2010-12
5A, 5B, 5D(1)

May a judge publish a children's book?

May the publisher post a photograph of the judge on the author page for the book?

May the judge participate in a "book signing" at a place where the books are sold?

May a press release mention that the author is a judge?

2010-13
4B

Whether a judge may speak at a "recovery rally" organized by high school students, concerning the judiciary’s role in the increased number of foreclosure cases being filed as a part of the current economic downturn.

Whether a judge may speak at such rally if the President of the United States also speaks at the same event.

2010-14
(Election)
2; 5C(3)(b); 7; 7A(1)(b); 7C(1); 7C(3)

(1) May a judicial candidate send an email inviting persons to attend a fundraiser for the candidate’s campaign and personally encourage persons to attend the fundraiser?

(2) May a judicial candidate, in answering questions by voters as to what criteria they should use to evaluate candidates for judicial office, indicate that he or she agrees with the criteria used by a named United States President in nominating identified justices of the United States Supreme Court?

(3a) May a judicial candidate participate in a walk-a-thon to raise funds for a charitable organization?

(3b)  May a judicial candidate participate in a walk-a-thon to raise funds for a charitable organization while wearing a shirt advertising the candidate's campaign?

(3c)    May members of the judicial candidate's campaign committee participate in a walk-a-thon to raise funds for a charitable organization while wearing a shirt advertising the candidate's campaign?

(4a)  May a judicial candidate accept an endorsement from a non-judicial elected official who is not campaigning for election?

(4b)  If a judicial candidate accepts an endorsement from a non-judicial elected official, may the judicial candidate: (i) advertise the endorsement on the judicial candidate's campaign website; (ii) advertise the endorsement in printed campaign advertisements; and (iii) discuss the endorsement in a campaign speech or other public forum?

(5)  May a judicial candidate accept an endorsement from a non-judicial candidate for elected office?

(6)  May a judicial candidate place an advertisement on the side of a moving advertising truck which would also display other advertisements for other candidates for elected office?

(7)  May a judicial candidate purchase tent space with funds drawn from the campaign account made out to the organizer of the county fair, and share space in the tent alongside other candidates for judicial or non-judicial elected office?

2010-15
2B, 4D(2)(a), 4D(2)(b), 5, 5(A), 5B(2), 5C(3), 5C(3)(b), 5C(3)(b)(i)

Whether a judge may participate as a walker in a walk-a-thon fund-raiser to benefit a charitable organization and make a personal contribution to support the cause, so long as the judge does not solicit sponsorships.

2010-16
(Election)
7; 7A(3)(b); 7C(1); 7C(3)

(1) May the brothers, mother-in-law, and cousins of a judge in a contested election campaign, who are members of the committee of responsible persons supporting the judge's campaign, solicit contributions and endorsements in support of the judge's election?

(2) May the spouse of a judge in a contested election campaign, who is also a member of the committee of responsible persons supporting the judge's campaign, attend a political party dinner event?

2010-17
1, 2A, Commentary to Canon 2A, 3, 5C(3) and Application to the Code of Judicial Conduct

May a Traffic Hearing Officer contribute the annual fee of $350.00 to the local Legal Aid Society in lieu of performing pro bono legal service hours?

May a Traffic Hearing Officer perform pro bono legal service hours for the local Legal Aid Society?

2010-18
(Election)
7 & 7A(3)(e)(ii)

1.  May the inquiring judge, who has received an award from the Florida Supreme Court and who is now a candidate for judicial office, use a photograph wherein the inquiring judge delivered an acceptance speech and wherein the justices are in view looking on as the speech is delivered on the inquiring judge’s campaign website or in campaign literature?

2.  May a candidate for judicial office use as a campaign consultant a sitting member of the county commission who is not currently running for office or asserting any political party view in support of any other non judicial or judicial candidate?

2010-19
(Election)
Definitions, 7, 7(A)(1)(d), 7(A)(3)(b), 7(C)(3)

May a candidate for judicial office speak at a gathering of a local “Patriot” group?

May a candidate for judicial office speak at a gathering of Tea Party Patriots?

2010-20
(Election)
3B(10), 7A(1)(d), 7C(3) and the Definitions Section of the Code of Judicial Conduct

May the inquiring judicial candidate attend a town hall meeting, hosted by an elected state representative, put on for the limited purpose of discussing the outcome of the legislative session?

May the inquiring judicial candidate attend any functions put on by “Organizing for America,” a community organizing project of the Democratic National Committee?

2010-21
(Election)
7 and 7C(1)

1.  Does Canon 7, Fla. Code Jud. Conduct, allow the placement of the word “contribute” underneath the words “volunteer, endorse, education, experience, family and photos” on the candidate’s committee’s home page on the internet?

2.  May a judicial candidate have a volunteer campaign manager who is an officer of a partisan political party who will not campaign for the candidate while engaged in partisan activities?

2010-22
(Election)
7, 7(A)(3)(b), 7(A)(3)(d), 7(C)(1), 7(C)(3), 7(E)

May the judicial candidate’s spouse be a member of a major political party’s executive committee?

May the judicial candidate’s spouse speak on behalf of the candidate outside of the political meetings of the political party’s executive committee?

May the judicial candidate’s spouse host lunches outside of any formal meetings of the political party’s executive committee for the spouse’s friends on the committee and at the same time campaign for the candidate?

May the judicial candidate’s spouse campaign for the candidate at non-political functions that the candidate and the spouse attend together?

May the judicial candidate’s spouse campaign for the candidate at functions that the candidate’s opponent and the candidate attend jointly and are asked to speak?

2010-23
(Election)
Receded from by Opinion 2011-15 to the extent that the Committee used language that suggests contrary advice to the advice given in that opinion.
2B; 5A(6); 5C(3)(b); 5C(3)(b)(i); 5C(3)(b)(iii); 7C(3); Commentary to Canon 5C(3)(b); An Aid to Understanding Canon 7

May a (non-judge) judicial candidate wear a campaign badge or button and distribute campaign literature while attending a fund-raising event for a charitable organization?

2010-24
2B, 4D(2)(b)

Whether a judge can lend the Judge’s name as an “Honorary Chairman” for a Bench-Bar tennis tournament which the local voluntary bar association is organizing to promote collegiality between judges and lawyers, where:  (1) the event does not serve a fundraising purpose; (2) the bar association is defraying the event’s costs through donations which the bar association is soliciting from lawyer and non-lawyer sponsors; and (3) the judge would not be involved in soliciting any donations, collecting any monies, or making any payments.

2010-25
recedes from JEAC opinions 89-5, 90-9, 93-25, and 96-13
2, 3, 3E, 3E(1), 3E(1)(c), 3E(1)(d)(iii), 3F, 5D, 5D(4), 5E(1) Definition Section
ISSUE ONE

May a judge hold stock in an insurance company that underwrites bail bonds which may be subject to forfeiture, or subject to motions to set aside and remit bond forfeitures?

ISSUE TWO

Whether a judge is disqualified from forfeiting bonds or hearing motions to set aside forfeitures or motions to remit forfeitures, if the judge holds stock in an insurance company which underwrites the bail bonds.

ISSUE THREE

Whether a judge must disclose the stock ownership in any case in which the insurance company underwrites a bail bond.

2010-26
1, 2A, and 3
May a full-time general magistrate, hearing family and civil matters exclusively in one county, work on weekends and days off from employment with the state as a certified family mediator in an adjoining county?  (A second question involving the propriety of advertising mediation services is not answered in light of the answer to the primary question.)
2010-27
4A, 4B
(1)  Whether a Judge may present a seminar providing attorneys with information, suggestions and anecdotes about how to present a case to a judge?
2010-28
5(B)2, 7C(1)

(1) May a judge, who is a candidate for re-election, make a contribution to a public broadcasting station which will thereafter thank the judge by name on the air for the contribution?

(2) May a judge or judicial candidate host a website or Facebook page promoting the campaign?

2010-29
1, 2B

May a judge write a letter of recommendation or commendation on behalf of a person previously convicted of a felony who is seeking a pardon from the Governor.

2010-30
Receded from by Opinion 2011-15 to the extent that the Committee used language that suggests contrary advice to the advice given in that opinion.
7

Whether a judicial candidate who is not a judge can attend a candidates’ forum to which all candidates are invited at which candidates are asked to pay for tables from which to distribute campaign literature?

Does it matter if the event is a fundraiser for the sponsoring organization?

2010-31
4, 4A(1)-(6), 4D, 4D(2), 4D(2)(b), 4D(2)(d), 5

Whether the Chief Judge of a circuit can properly send a letter to “Members of the Bar,” soliciting lawyers’ participation in the “One Campaign” of The Florida Bar.

2010-32
4

May a Judge participate in a program or skit for an American Inn of Court if the presenting group competes for a "best skit" award which includes a monetary contribution to a charity of the group's choice?

2010-33
2B, 5A, 5C(3)(b), Commentary to 2C and 5C(3)(b)

Whether a judge may accept the “Spirit of Excellence” Government Leader of the Year Award from an organization whose purpose is to provide business training and networking opportunities for women, where the award will be presented at a ceremony not advertised as a fundraiser but at which event expenses will be paid by the sale of tickets to the event and by congratulatory, business or personal ads in an event publication and where the organization will conduct a raffle to raise money for a scholarship fund.

2010-34
1, 2A, 2B, 3B(7), 3B(9), 4A, 4C

Can a judge write a letter to another judge to advocate a drug program or testify before that other judge to explain the drug program that can be used as an alternative to incarceration, in a case involving a relative of the requesting judges' friend?

2010-35
2B

Whether it is ethically permissible for a retiring judge to permit the mediation firm that the judge is joining to send out an announcement that the judge is joining the firm while the judge is still a sitting judge?

2010-36
Recedes from JEAC Opinion 91-17
3E(1)(b) and Commentary to 3E(1)(b)

Whether a newly elected judge,  who previously served as an assistant public defender, may hear a case involving a defendant who was represented by the public defender's office during the judge's employment in that office, if the judge has no involvement with, and no knowledge of the facts of the case?

2010-37
2A, 2B, 3B(7), 3E(1)(a), 5A(1), (2), (5) & (6)

Whether a judge may allow juveniles to perform their community service hours by participating in a jogging program with him.

2010-38
2B, 5C(3), 5C(3)(a)

May a judge sit on the board of a charitable foundation whose principal source of funds is the owner of a for-profit rehabilitation program to which mis-demeanants are routinely directed by the inquiring judge?