Opinions of the Judicial Ethics
Advisory Committee



2013


 

 Opinion
 Canon(s)
 Subject
2013-01
5C and 5G
1.   May a lawyer who has been appointed as a judge, but has not assumed office, sell the lawyer’s interest in a law practice, including its tangible assets and goodwill, and collect payments for that sale over a period of time, while sitting as a judge?

2.   May payments for goodwill be based upon a formula taking into account fees earned in pending matters transferred to the acquiring firm?

2013-02
3E(1)
1.   Must a judge, who consulted with but did not hire an attorney from a large law firm to represent the judge a year ago, recuse from cases where the attorney or the firm appear as counsel?

2.   Must a judge disclose that the judge consulted the attorney or law firm in cases where the attorney or law firm represents a party?

2013-03
5C(2) and commentary
May a judge participate in a county elections task force to address issues encountered in the judge’s county and throughout the state during the 2012 general election?
2013-04
 
May a judge collect a contingent fee for a matter on which the judge has worked, and for which the judge has secured an offer of settlement, before becoming a judge?
2013-05
4A, 5D(5)(h)
May a judge assigned to a dependency division permit groups or persons to donate items for children to play with while the children are in court?
2013-06
3E(1), 5A, 5B, 5C, Commentary to Canon 5C(3)(a)
May a judge become a board member of a not-for-profit organization which will be dedicated to providing financial assistance to anonymous needy children and families who are referred to the organization by a local law enforcement agency which will have one of its officers serve as a board member.
2013-07
2, 2B, 3A, 5A, 5B, 6A, 6B
May a judge serve as a college football referee?
2013-08
2, 2B and commentary

1.  May a judge write a letter of recommendation as part of a friend’s application process to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation for a real estate license, where the friend has a prior misdemeanor arrest and the purpose of the letter is to serve as additional information attesting to the friend’s “honesty, truthfulness, trustworthiness, good character and good reputation”?

2.  If so, may the letter be on judicial letterhead?

2013-09
2, 3, 4A(1) & (6), 4B, & Commentary to Canon 4B

May a judge educate friends, family and other members of the community about dependency court and the guardian ad litem program in an effort to secure additional volunteers for the program?

2013-10
2, 3, 4A(1) & (6), 4B, 5B & Commentary to Canons 4B and 5B

1.  May a judge create and allow to be broadcast public service announcements (PSAs) soliciting volunteers to serve as foster parents or adoptive families for children in the dependency system?

2.  May the judge use the circuit’s technology department to produce the PSAs? 

3.  If the circuit’s technology department is not able to produce the PSAs, may the judge solicit media outlets or a public university to produce the PSAs?

4. May the judge or the circuit’s court administrator request media outlets to broadcast the PSAs?

5. May the judge provide PSAs to the Florida Department of Children and Families to allow the Department to request media outlets to broadcast the PSAs?

2013-11
5A(3) & (4), 5E & 5G

1. May a judge write a letter to a former client informing the client that the judge no longer can practice law?

2. May a judge furnish a former client a copy of a document in the judge’s possession which the former client might find helpful in obtaining advice from new counsel?   

2013-12
2, 2A, 2B, 4, 4A(1)-(5), 4B, 4D(2)(b), 5D(5)(a) & (h), & Commentary to Canons 2A, 2B, 4B and 4D(2)

May a general magistrate accept and utilize a “government rate” discount applicable to all attorneys employed by the government for tickets to the local legal aid organization’s annual gala?

2013-13
2A, 2B & Commentaries, 3B(7)(c), 3B(12), 3E(1)(d)(ii), 3E(1)(c), (d)(iii)

May a judge use the judge’s former law office, located in the building where the judge’s family’s law firm continues to practice law, during non-business hours to perform personal and court-related work?

2013-14
2A, 2B and 5A

1. May a judge running for re-election create a Twitter account with a privacy setting open so anyone — including lawyers — would be able to follow the account?

2. May the judge’s campaign manager create and maintain the Twitter account instead of the judge?

2013-15
1, 2A, and 3; Application

May a civil traffic infraction hearing officer simultaneously serve as a municipality’s local hearing officer pursuant to section 316.003(91), Florida Statutes (2013)?

2013-16
5C

May a judge serve on the board development committee of a scouting organization and on the board of directors of that organization?

2013-17
2B, 5A, 5B, 5C, 5D and Commentary to Canon 5A

May a judge participate in a local cook-off competition being held at a Jamaican Jerk Festival which does not serve a fundraising purpose and the winners of which will receive a cash award and trophy? 

2013-18
2A, 4, 4A(1), 5, 5A(1), Commentary to 5A

(1) May judges, who are assigned to a specialized domestic violence division, participate in a fundraising walk-a-thon sponsored by a nonprofit organization whose mission is to raise awareness for domestic violence victims and provide them with support?

(2) If the answer to the above is “no,” may judges in the domestic violence division attend the event without actually walking in the walk-a-thon?

2013-19
7C(1)

Must a judge, who is facing re-election, provide notice to parties when a member of the judge’s campaign committee is opposing counsel, in cases that are likely to be handled or disposed without formal court appearances?

If so, may the judge use campaign literature to provide the necessary notice?

May the judge utilize campaign funds to defray the cost of providing the necessary notice?

2013-20
2B, 7A and 7D

1. May a judge maintain a membership in SUNPAC, a political action committee?

2. May a judge attend events hosted by SUNPAC, a political action committee?

2013-21
7A(1)(b), 7C(1) & Definition Section

May the inquiring judicial candidate permit distribution of an endorsement letter co-signed and authored by an attorney, knowing that this attorney has already endorsed another judicial candidate in a different race?

May the inquiring judicial candidate allow the same attorney to co-host a fundraiser to benefit the inquiring judicial candidate?

What, if anything, should a judicial candidate allow an attorney to do for the campaign, given the attorney’s involvement with another judicial campaign?

2013-22
2, 2A, 2B, 4, 4A, 4B, 5B & Commentary to Canons 4B and 5A

Whether a judge may present a “challenge coin” to jurors, court personnel or deserving citizens who have made contributions to the court or their community.

2013-23
2B, 5A

May a judge attend an annual event called “God and Country Day,” organized by a local church which focuses on the laws of the state and country and its foundation in Judeo-Christian values?

Is it permissible for a judge to pose for a photograph with the pastor and other elected officials, knowing that it would be published in a local newspaper?

If asked, may the judge make public religious comments from the pulpit at this event?