Opinions of the Judicial Ethics
Advisory Committee



2014


 

 Opinion
 Canon(s)
 Subject
2014-01
2, 2B, 3B(1), 3B(5), 3B(10), 3E(1), and 5D(5)
Whether the inquiring judge may display art in the judge's judicial chambers in connection with a program under which the local government acquires art for the purpose of display in public buildings, where the judge does not conduct hearings in the chambers, but in which the judge regularly is visited  by other judges, law clerks, interns, clerks, court staff, government officials, and private guests.
2014-02
3E(1)(a) , 5F(2)
May a judge preside in a case in which that judge, while previously in law practice, has provided mediation services?

May a judge preside in a case, in which a party is represented by a lawyer to whom the judge has provided mediation services, while the judge was previously in law practice?
2014-03
2B, 5A, 5B, 5D(3) and 6A
May a newly-appointed judge continue to host a weekend radio program playing classic songs for a commercial radio station?
2014-04
7C(1)

1. May a candidate’s campaign account, for which the candidate is the treasurer, pay for the management of a website maintained by the candidate’s committee?

2. May the candidate personally oversee the design and content of the website?

3. May the candidate personally oversee a paid communications firm that is managing the website?

4. May a principal of the committee’s paid communications firm managing the website be on the candidate’s committee of responsible persons?

5. May the website contain a link permitting direct contributions to the candidate’s campaign through the website?

6. May a single committee member oversee the website?

2014-05
7

Whether an elected State office holder must resign, in order to become a candidate for election to judicial office.

2014-06
2, 2B, 4, 4B & Commentary to Canon 4B

Whether a judge may appear in a video discussing a technological development pioneered by the judge’s circuit, which is intended to be shown by the provider of the technology at a large technology conference and  placed on the technology company’s website?

2014-07
2B, 4A(2), 4A(3), 4B(2)(b), 4D(2)(a), 4D(2)(b) & Commentary to 2B and 4B

Whether a Judge, who is a member of a regional Association for Women Lawyers, may participate as a model as a part of an event described as a “cocktail party and fashion show,” where the event’s proceeds “primarily benefit…a free childcare facility located inside the…courthouse” but also help fund the association’s “assistance to deserving law students in need of financial support.”

2014-08
7C(3)

Question 1:  Whether a judicial candidate may attend an event sponsored by a political party, at which all candidates in the inquiring judicial candidate's race have been invited to speak?

Question 2:  May the judicial candidate pay for a table or advertisement in the organization's bulletin, the cost of which is being used to pay for the event?

2014-09
3E(1) and 7C(1)

Must a judge seeking re-election who has appointed a “committee of responsible persons” for fundraising  purposes, and includes attorneys on that committee, always disclose those attorneys’ status to counsel or parties opposing the attorney(s) in proceedings before the judge, or may the judge use discretion based on the extent to which a given committee member has actually participated in the re-election campaign?

Must the judge agree to disqualification in all post-disclosure cases if requested?

Must a judge assigned to a civil division, in which many cases may be inactive or in default status, actively seek out the attorney or parties in such cases to make the necessary disclosure, or may the judge limit such disclosure to circumstances where the judge is actually asked to take action in the case? 

May the judge perform the necessary disclosure using the judge’s official letterhead at public expense?

2014-10
7A(1)(b),  7A(3)(e)(ii)

May a judge who is a candidate for re-election use in the judge’s campaign literature and electronic media a picture of the judge being sworn in at the judge’s investiture by a now deceased former judge?

2014-11
2A, 2B, 3E(1), 3F, and 7
ISSUE ONE

Whether a trial judge, who has opposition for reelection in a multi-county circuit may accept the public endorsement of the circuit’s elected State Attorney, for whom the judge worked three years before becoming a judge and who has publicly endorsed the judge in an earlier contested reelection.

ISSUE TWO

Whether a trial judge, who has opposition for reelection in a multi-county circuit may accept the public endorsement of county sheriffs or police chiefs in the circuit.

ISSUE THREE

Whether the judge may indicate the title or designation of office of the State Attorney, county sheriff, or police chief in any such publicly-stated endorsement, that is, whether the endorsement may list the supporters as State Attorney, county sheriff, or chief of police.

2014-12
7A, 7A(3)(b), 7A(3)(e)(ii) & 7C(3)
ISSUE ONE

May a judicial candidate educate the public about the judicial appointment process in Florida?

ISSUE TWO

May a judicial candidate “mention” that the incumbent opponent was appointed?

ISSUE THREE

May a judicial candidate “mention” when the appointment was made?

ISSUE FOUR

May a judicial candidate “mention” by whom the opponent’s appointment was made?

2014-13
1, 2A, 3, 4 and 5
May a Civil Traffic Infraction Hearing Officer serve as President of the Board of Directors of Legal Aid?
2014-14
7C(3)

1. May a judicial candidate provide a biography to a partisan political organization in response to the organization’s request to print the biography in the organization’s newsletter?

2. If the organization represents that it also has requested a biography from the judicial candidate’s opponent(s), must the judicial candidate confirm that request with the judicial candidate’s opponent(s) before providing a biography?

2014-15
2A-C, 4A, 4A(1)-(6), 4(B), 4D(2), 4D(2)(a), 4D(2)(b), 4D(2)(e), 5A(1)-(6), 5B(1)(a) and 5C(3)(b)(i)

1.       May a judge serve on the board of directors of a women’s non-profit foundation that engages in fundraising activities?

2.       If the judge elects not to serve on the non-profit foundation board, may the judge be involved with the board in an advisory capacity?

3.       May a judge serve on the board of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society that also fundraises?

4.       If the judge is unable to serve on the Society’s board, may the judge attend and personally contribute to functions organized by the Society?

5.       May a judge be a dues paying member of a women’s non-partisan civic group that also fundraises?

6.       May a judge be a dues paying member of the Junior League?

2014-16
7, 7A, 7A(1)(b), 7D, Commentary to Canon 7A(1)(b)

May a sitting judge, who is not up for election in the current cycle, and whose adult child is running for an open judicial position, attend the adult child’s post-election gathering after all polls close in the relevant voting area?

2014-17
3E, 3E(1), 3E(1)(c), 3E(d)(iii); 5D(1), 5D(1)(b) and 5D(4)

1.  Must a presiding judge disclose to all parties in a case of that judge’s business relationship as landlord to one of the parties?

2.  Does the judge’s relationship as a landlord to a bank/party disqualify the judge from hearing the cause of action?

3.  May a judge, regardless of the disqualification requirement, hear the case if the parties waive disqualification after a proper disclosure?

4.  Must the judge divest the judge’s ownership interest in properties being leased to the banking institutions?

2014-18
7A(1)(b)

May a candidate for election to judicial office place an advertisement on a moving advertising truck with a LED digital billboard, on which the judicial candidate’s advertisement appears by itself, but in a rotation with other partisan campaign advertisements?

2014-19
7

May a judge-appointee, who is a member of the State Legislature and who will not take office as judge until after the conclusion of a Special Session, participate in the Special Session of the Legislature by attending and voting?

2014-20
5C(2), Commentary to Canon 5C(2)

May a judge serve on a statutorily-created county development authority which determines whether to fund grant requests from industry seeking to start or relocate in the county and from local governments seeking to upgrade their infrastructure?

2014-21
5F(2) and Application Section

May a senior judge serve as a mediator in cases pending in a United States District Court or in a United States Bankruptcy Court that are geographically located within the state judicial circuit in which the senior judge presides?

2014-22
Application section and Canon 5E

May a senior judge, as personal representative of the estate of the senior judge’s spouse, in order to close down the deceased spouse’s solo practice, hire staff to bill accounts receivable, become a signor on the firm’s operating and trust accounts, hire an attorney, if necessary (to address any legal issues that may arise in administering the estate and closing down the practice), and purchase tail insurance for the Professional Association?

2014-23
2B, 4B, and 5C

May a judge make a public appeal for potential foster parents in a circuit or county where the vetting and training of foster parents is performed by a nonprofit agency that is reimbursed for its administrative costs?

2014-24
5C & Commentary; Canon 7C

May a judge donate funds remaining in the judge’s campaign account to a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization on whose board the judge sits?

2014-25
5A

May a circuit judge, assigned to the juvenile division, accept appointment as the chair of a self-described advocacy organization relating to human trafficking issues?

2014-26
2A & Commentary; Canon 4A(1) & (2); Canon 4B & Commentary; Canon 4D(2) Commentary

May a judge donate money to a legal aid organization whose attorneys appear before the judge?

2014-27
5D(1) and 5D(2)

May a judge continue to maintain an ownership interest in a business entity that owns a building leased to members of the judge’s former law firm?