Opinions of the Judicial Ethics
Advisory Committee



2012


 

 Opinion
 Canon(s)
 Subject
2012-01
(Election)
7, 7C(1)
QUESTION 1:  May a judge accept campaign contributions from a candidate running for office in a non-judicial election?

QUESTION 2:  May a judge accept contributions from an officer in a local political party organization?

QUESTION 3:  May a judge accept contributions that the persons identified in Questions 1 and 2 have generated, if neither of these persons is on the committee of responsible persons established to secure funds for the judge's campaign?

2012-02
3E(1), 3E(1)(d)(ii), Commentary to Canon 3E(1)
Whether a county judge whose child works in the state attorney’s office in the same county is automatically disqualified in all criminal cases?
2012-03
(Election)
2A, 7, 7A(1)(b), 7A(3)(b), 7B(2), 7C(1), 7C(2), and 7C(3)
May a judge attend a victory party for a person who was elected, without opposition, to a position such as mayor of the city in which the judge resides?
2012-04
4D(2)(a), (b), and (c)
May a judge member of a standing committee of the Supreme Court of Florida directly solicit donations from voluntary bar associations to help defray the costs to print and distribute to judges, the legal community and the public a brochure which the committee drafted about the perception of fairness in Florida’s courts?
2012-05
5E and 5G
May a judge appear as guardian of the judge’s minor children at a mediation in a contested probate estate?
2012-06
Election
7A(3)(b)
May a judicial candidate’s spouse, with the candidate’s knowledge, attend a political party function wearing the candidate’s campaign badge?
2012-07
4A(1),  4B, and 4D(2)(c)
May a judge publish a blog that reports on Florida Supreme Court and District Court of Appeal cases as they are released, where the entries are intended to be neutral, nonjudgmental, brief summaries of the facts and holdings, with a link to the full opinion of each case?
2012-08
3E,  Commentary to Canon 3E(1)
Whether recusal is required when the inquiring judge was an attorney representing the adverse party of an attorney/litigant over seven (7) years ago?

Whether disclosure is required when the inquiring judge was an attorney representing the adverse party of an attorney/litigant over seven (7) years ago?

2012-09
2, 3B(1), and 3E(1)
Whether a judge, who, with the judge's spouse, are tenant/ defendants in a residential condominium foreclosure proceeding, must recuse himself/herself from all residential foreclosure proceedings.

If recusal is not required, whether a judge who, with the judge's spouse, are tenant/ defendants in a residential condominium foreclosure proceeding, must disclose that status to all residential foreclosure litigants.

If recusal is not required, and if disclosure to all residential foreclosure litigants is not required, whether a judge who, with the judge's spouse, are tenant/ defendants in a residential condominium foreclosure proceeding, must disclose that status to litigants who present motions for writs of possession or objections for the judge's consideration or to litigants in residential foreclosure cases involving tenant occupied residential properties.

2012-10
5F(2)
(1)  Whether a retired judge eligible to serve on assignment to temporary judicial duty may mentor a law firm’s associates in effective trial practice.

(2)  Whether a retired judge eligible to serve on assignment to temporary judicial duty may assist a law firm in developing state-wide and multi-state alternative dispute resolution programs.

(3)  If (1) or (2) are permitted, whether the senior judge may permit the law firm to announce the judge as a partner with the firm.

(4)  If (3) is not permitted, whether the retired judge may maintain the status of senior judge but accept no judicial assignments so long as the relationship with the law firm exists.

2012-11
2A, 3D, 3D(1), 3D(2), and 3D(3)
Whether a Judge has an obligation under the Code of Judicial Conduct to report possible criminal activity the judge becomes aware of during judicial proceedings.
2012-12
2A
Whether a judge may add lawyers who may appear before the judge as "connections" on the professional networking site, Linked In, or permit such lawyers to add the judge as their "connection" on that site?
2012-13
(Election)
7A(3)(b), 7C(3)
Whether a judicial candidate may wear jewelry or apparel depicting an elephant or donkey.
2012-14
(Election)
7A(3)(a), 7C(1) and 7E
May a committee of responsible persons, established by a judicial candidate to support the candidate’s campaign, hold an event at the candidate’s parents’ home, at which funds will be solicited for the candidate’s campaign?

May the committee solicit contributions in the flyer promoting the event and at the event itself?

2012-15
(Election)
7A(3)(e), 7C(1), 7C(3)(d)
1. Must a campaign website state that it is maintained by the committee of responsible persons in support of a judicial candidate’s campaign, so it is clear that the website is not maintained by the candidate personally?

2. May a website maintained by the committee of responsible persons in support of a judicial candidate’s campaign include a link or other feature to facilitate contributions to the campaign?

3. May a website maintained by a committee of responsible persons in support of a judicial candidate’s campaign include an address to which contributions may be mailed to the campaign?

2012-16
2B, 5C(2) & 5C(3)(a)(i)&(ii)
Whether a judge may accept a position on the board of directors of a private not-for-profit corporation to be organized to administer “52 million DCF dollars” by contracting with one or more third parties as part of “the privatization of the DCF funds”?

2012-17
7C(1), 7C(3)(d)
May a candidate for judicial office, who is the campaign treasurer, remove a campaign contribution from a post office box, and deposit that contribution in the campaign account?
2012-18
(Election)
no canons cited
May a judicial candidate accept and publicize an endorsement from a non-judicial elected partisan official in the official’s individual capacity, when the official qualified to run for re-election in the same election cycle as the judicial candidate, but no other candidates qualified for the official’s office, such that the official automatically will retain that office without an election, will not appear on the ballot, and will not be campaigning?
2012-19
(Election)
7A(1)(b); 7A(3)(c)
If a judicial candidate knows that:  (1) a supporter is displaying the judicial candidate’s campaign sign on the supporter’s vehicle, (2) the supporter also is displaying a partisan candidate’s campaign sign on the supporter’s vehicle, and (3) the judicial candidate could have the supporter remove the judicial candidate’s campaign sign from the supporter’s vehicle, must the judicial candidate do so?
2012-20
(Election)
7C(3)
May a judicial candidate request that a representative attend a political party function to speak on behalf of the candidate, if the candidate is unable to attend and the speaking engagement is otherwise in compliance with Canon 7?
2012-21
(Election)
no canons cited
May a judicial candidate use the endorsement of a non-judicial elected official who is opposed by an individual officially qualified as a write-in candidate?
2012-22
2B, 4A(3) and (6), 4B, and 4C
ISSUE ONE

Whether a judge may, with the chief judge’s approval, appear and speak in support of a specific software funding request to the county commission, which provides funding for judicial technology and software in the county where the judge sits.

ISSUE TWO

Whether a judge may speak individually to county commissioners in a private setting regarding the judge’s support of a specific software funding request being considered by the county commission, which provides funding for judicial technology and software in the county where the judge sits.

2012-23
(Election)
7
May a judicial candidate who is not a judge pay a sponsorship fee to a nonpartisan organization to enable the candidate to attend a conference of the organization to pass out campaign literature and speak at the event?
2012-24
5A(6), 5B, 5C(3)(b)(i)-(ii)

1. May a judge give a keynote speech at the local council of Girl Scouts’ annual business meeting where the meeting’s purposes are to report on the council’s status and recognize adult volunteers?

2. May a judge give a keynote speech at the Girl Scouts’ annual Gold and Silver Award Ceremony where the speech’s purposes are to congratulate girls who have earned the highest awards available and encourage them to be involved in the community?

2012-25
(Election)
7A(1)(d), 7C(3)

May a judicial candidate attend a candidate forum hosted by the Ronald Reagan Republican Assembly to be held at the headquarters of the organization’s endorsed partisan candidate for the Florida House of Representatives?

2012-26
2B; Canon 2 Commentary; Canons 3A, 3E(1), 4A(1), (5) & (6), 4B, 4D(2)(a); Canon 4B Commentary; Canon 4D(2) Commentary

(1) May a judge request local bar associations to convene a special lunch meeting so that the judge may solicit attorneys to volunteer for appointment as pro bono attorneys ad litem for children in dependency cases?

(2)   May a judge accept a non-profit organization’s offer to attempt to obtain the funds needed to pay for the meeting if the organization supports guardian ad litem volunteers and children for whom they advocate in the judge’s circuit but the judge is not involved in the fundraising effort?

2012-27
2A and 2B; Commentary to Canon 2B

May a judge-elect testify as an expert on attorney’s fees at an evidentiary hearing which had commenced while he/she was a candidate for judge but had been continued to conclude his/her cross-examination after the date he/she was elected to the bench?

2012-28
(amended)
3E(1) and 3F; Application section A(2)

May a judge preside over non-traffic civil cases in which either party is represented by an attorney who also serves as a civil traffic infraction hearing officer for the circuit?

2012-29
2B and 5C(3)(b); Commentary to Canon 5C(3)(b)

1. May a judge participate in a charity walkathon wearing a shirt with a “team name” based on the name of a local attorney in private practice?

2. May a judge’s spouse donate and solicit funds on the spouse’s behalf and on behalf of the team named for the local lawyer?

2012-30
5B, 5C(3)(b)(i)-(iii)

May a judge sitting in the juvenile division of the circuit court accept an award at a charity luncheon where a silent auction will take place simultaneously during the luncheon?

2012-31
3C(2), 4A, and 4B

1.  May a chief judge permit a general magistrate to attend a training session sponsored by the Salvation Army and the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence (“FCADV”)?

2.   May a chief judge permit members of the court’s administrative staff to attend this training session?

3.   Does the recent passage of Chapter 2012-147, Laws of Florida, providing that the Department of Children and Family Services shall operate the domestic violence program in collaboration with the FCADV have any bearing on whether the FCADV is considered an advocacy organization?

2012-32
3(E)

1. If a judge’s stepniece is employed as an attorney with the Public Defender’s Office, is the judge’s disqualification required in all criminal cases in which a public defender is involved?

2. If a judge’s stepniece appears before the judge, is the judge per se disqualified pursuant to Canon 3E, Code of Judicial Conduct?

3. Should the judge disclose that the judge’s stepniece is appearing before the judge as an attorney in a criminal case?

2012-33
3E(1); Commentary to Canon 3E (1)

Whether a judge who serves in the circuit criminal division is required to disclose that the judge’s spouse is employed as a “sworn legal counsel” to the local sheriff’s office.

2012-34
2B, 3B(9), 4A, 4B

May a judge accept an invitation from a university editorial board member to critique a book written by the lead defense attorney of a well-publicized criminal case, when the defendant in that case remains a party in pending proceedings arising from issues raised in the criminal case?

2012-35
3E(1) Commentary, 4A(1), 4B, 4D(2)(c), and 5A(1)

May a judge, as chair of the local Juvenile Justice County Council and chair of the local Children’s Services Council, write a letter on judicial letterhead in support of a district school board’s federal grant application when a portion of the grant funds will be used by the district school board to fund a delinquency prevention program being developed by the joint efforts of the two councils?

2012-36
2B, 5C(3)(b)(iii)

Whether the inquiring judge may attend a religious organization’s fundraising dinner, after the organization mailed invitations listing the inquiring judge as one of several “hosts” without notifying the judge before the mailing?

2012-37
2, 2A, 3B(1), 3E, 3E(1), 3F

1. Must a judge recuse from all cases involving a bank whose loan collection official is the judge’s close personal friend, whether or not the bank official appears in the case as a witness or bank representative, where the official is a member of a local social club to which the judge belonged until three years ago and the official frequently socializes with the judge and the judge’s spouse in each other’s homes, around town and while boating?

2. If the judge is not required to recuse from the bank’s cases, must the judge disclose the relationship to the parties in cases involving the bank?

3. Must a judge recuse from cases involving the attorney and law firm which represented the judge, the judge’s mother, and the judge’s brother in a personal injury case which settled without going to trial?

4. Must the judge, upon no longer being required to recuse from cases involving the attorney and law firm, disclose that relationship to the parties in a case in which that attorney or law firm appears?

2012-38
2A, 2B, Commentary to Canon 2B, and Application of the Code of Judicial Conduct, Section A

May a part-time civil traffic infraction hearing officer testify as an expert witness in a non-traffic proceeding?