Opinions of the Judicial Ethics
Advisory Committee



2017


 

 Opinion
 Canon(s)
 Subject
2017-01
1, 2, 2B, 3E(1)

1. Is a part-time traffic hearing officer disqualified from hearing all cases being represented by attorneys to whom the traffic hearing officer had previously referred traffic-related cases?

2. Should the traffic hearing officer be required to disclose the previous practice of referring cases to the attorneys when those attorneys are appearing before the officer.

2017-02
2B, 4, 4A(1), 4C, 4D, 4D(1)

May a judge accept an appointment to the Florida Impaired Driving Coalition, an advisory body to the Florida Department of Transportation?

2017-03
3E(1), 3E(2)

1. Whether a judge must disclose that a lawyer appearing before the judge has referred a case to the judge’s spouse, a lawyer, and who may have shared, or will share, a fee with the referring lawyer.

2. If the judge discloses the spouse’s business relationship with the attorney, is recusal automatically required?

2017-04
2B, 4B, 5D

1. May a judge allow law-related organizations and a private law firm to jointly host a free post-seminar reception at the judges’ courthouse?

2. May a judge accept food/drink provided by the organizations/law firm at such an event?

2017-05
2, 5D, 5F(2), and Commentary to Canon 5F(2)

ISSUE 1
May a senior judge serve as a court-appointed, litigant-paid independent investigator in a shareholders’ derivative action in a circuit where the judge does not preside?

ISSUE 2
If permitted to serve in that capacity, is the senior judge required to disclose such service and/or refrain from presiding over cases involving certain parties, lawyers, and law firms?

2017-06
2B, 5D 5D(5)(h), and Commentary

May a circuit’s chief judge accept a donation of copiers to be used exclusively by attorneys in the courtroom?

2017-07
5F(2), Application, Application B(1)

1. Whether Canon 5F(2) of the Code of Judicial Conduct applies to service as a senior judge on a District Court of Appeal.

2. Whether, if Canon 5F(2) does apply, a senior judge may serve on all cases before a District Court of Appeal when the senior judge currently provides arbitration services in one of the judicial circuits within the District Court of Appeal’s jurisdiction.

2017-08
2, 2A, 2B, 5A, 5B, 5C(3), Commentary to Canon 2A, Commentary to Canon 5A

1. May a judge serve as a “judge” for preliminary Miss America pageant competitions?

2. As a corollary inquiry, the inquiring judge seeks a determination whether the Canons prohibit participation at a pageant competition by showcasing a talent, such as singing.

2017-09
2, 2B

May a judge submit a letter to a municipality supporting the dedication of a little league baseball field in the name of the judge’s deceased former bailiff?

2017-10
3B(2) and 3B(5)

May a judge attend a private organization’s seminar, that is neither court nor bar association sponsored, regarding diversity and racial equality at the judge’s own expense?

2017-11
Preamble; Canons 5D(5); 5C(3)(b)(iii); 6; and Commentary to Canon 5D(5)(d)

Whether the Code of Judicial Conduct provides guidance for how a judge should dispose of an anonymous cash gift.

2017-12
5E(1), (2) & (3); D (4)

Whether a judge may serve as a co-trustee, of an irrevocable trust created by the judge’s brother-in-law, who resides in Florida, but does not reside in the circuit wherein the judge presides?

2017-13
5E; Application of the Code of Judicial Conduct

May a judge serve as the executor of an estate, a guardian, and/or a trustee on behalf of close relatives?

2017-14
(Election)
7A and 7C(1)
ISSUE ONE

May a judicial candidate personally solicit the support and/or endorsement of well-recognized public officials in the community (i.e., Sheriff, Police Chief, Property Appraiser, Tax Collector, County Commissioner, School Board Members, etc.)?

ISSUE TWO

May a judicial candidate personally solicit the support and/or endorsement of citizens in the community?

2017-15
4B and 5(C)(2)
May a judge speak to civic and community groups about the Constitutional Revision Commission (CRC) as part of a Florida Bar-sponsored “Protect Florida Democracy” program?
2017-16
(Election)
7, 7A, 7A(1)(b), 7A(1)(e), and 7D

1.  May a judge appear as the candidate’s spouse in a family photograph to be used in the spouse’s campaign seeking election to a partisan office?

2.  May a judge appear at non-partisan events where the judge’s spouse, a declared candidate for an elected partisan office, will be speaking, for example, local citizens’ groups or neighborhood forums?

3.  May a judge attend any fundraising events for the judge’s spouse, a declared candidate for an elected partisan office, if those events are not sponsored by a political party (i.e., “friendraisers” at private homes)?

4.  May a judge wear a campaign button or any other item supporting the spouse’s political campaign?

2017-17
2 and 3E(1)

Whether a judge who has recently assumed the bench is required to self-recuse from presiding over cases in which a party was until recently a client of the judge?

2017-18
2A, 5A(1) and (2), 5C(3)(a)(i) & (ii)

1. May a judge who serves in an advisory role for a nonprofit cultural organization when the organization takes public positions on pending legislation? 

2. May a judge serve in an advisory role of a nonprofit cultural organization sign a confidentiality agreement concerning matters learned while serving in that role?

2017-19
5B, 5C(2)

Whether a judge may serve on the board of directors of a neighborhood family community center which is funded almost exclusively by a government grant.

2017-20
3C(4), 3E(1)(d)(i-iv), 3F

1. Whether a judge shall be disqualified if an attorney from a law firm in which the judge’s brother-in-law is a partner appears as counsel in a case before the judge?

2. May a judge enter an agreed-upon order submitted by the parties appointing the judge’s cousin as a mediator?

3.Whether a judge shall be disqualified if the wife of the judge’s cousin appears before the judge.

4. Whether a judge shall be disqualified if the daughter of the judge’s cousin appears before the judge

5. Whether a judge must disclose the relationship when the wife or daughter of the judge’s cousin, or a member of their respective law firms, appears before the judge.

2017-21
2 and 3E(1)

1. Whether a general magistrate must recuse himself/herself from presiding over Marchman Act proceedings in which the attorney appearing before the inquiring magistrate represented the magistrate’s brother-in-law in a Marchman Act case before another general magistrate presiding in the same circuit?

2. If the inquiring general magistrate does not have to recuse from such cases, is disclosure required, and for how long?

3. If the attorney who represented the general magistrate’s brother-in-law is employed by the Office of Regional Conflict Counsel, may the general magistrate still preside over Marchman Act cases and assign the Office of Regional Conflict Counsel to represent respondents, provided that the attorney that the general magistrate assigns is not the same individual from the Office of Regional Conflict Counsel who represented the general magistrate’s brother-in-law?

4. If recusal is required, how much time should pass before the general magistrate no longer should recuse? 

5. Whether the general magistrate may order a respondent to attend treatment at a particular facility if the general magistrate’s brother-in-law is a current or was a former patient at the facility?

2017-22
4D(2)(b) and 4A(1)-(6)

May a judge accept an award from a local voluntary bar association at an annual scholarship gala that serves as a fundraiser for law students?

2017-23
3, 3B(7), 4A(1) & (2), 4B, commentary to Canon 4B

1. May the administrative judge of a family law division send letters of appreciation to attorneys who have volunteered and served as a pro bono guardian ad litem?

2. May such a letter, if appropriate, be ethically sent only to the volunteer attorney without sending copies to counsel and without placing a copy in the court file?

3. May, as an alternative to sending letters to the individual attorneys, the court participate in recognizing the attorneys who served as pro bono guardian ad litems as a group at a bar luncheon or similar function.

2017-24
(Election)
7C(1)

Whether a judicial candidate may establish open Facebook page that would request individuals to sign petitions that permit the candidate to qualify without paying the qualifying fee otherwise required by law.

2017-25
(Election)
7

1. Whether a judge who is up for re-election, but who currently has no declared opponent, may:

a) Attend and address the audience at an event sponsored by a non-partisan group promoting minority voting, when all candidates are invited to speak in favor of the candidate’s election?

b) May the judge do so, even if the above organization publicizes a list of both partisan and non-partisan candidates it recommends for election?

2. Can the judge send a campaign flyer to local voters touting the judge’s endorsements and experience?

3. Can the judge go and meet with individuals of a partisan political party club prior to the commencement of the club’s meeting?

4. Can the judge attend a holiday party hosted by a partisan political party where there will be no party business handled and no speakers will appear?

2017-26
(Election)
7A; 7C(1); 7A(3)(b); 7A(3)(c)

May a judicial candidate personally receive an unsolicited contribution to his or her campaign?