Opinion 80-14

September 3, 1980

Dear Judge:

This is in response to your inquiry wherein you asked if you may write a letter to the editor, for publication in a local newspaper, in response to an editorial concerning the method of selecting and retaining judicial in the State of Florida. You also stated that while the matter may be political, it directly affects the independence and quality of the judiciary.

The six member of the committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges unanimously agreed you may respond. In our Opinion 78-14 the Committee stated:

"...that a judge may state his views publicly as to those portions of a proposed bond issue to be placed on the ballot which relates to the law, improvement of the legal system and the administration of justice. On that basis, the Committee noted that there was no restriction against his expressing his views on the bond issue as relating to the proposed courthouse and correctional facilities."

In an earlier Opinion, 76-16, a judge asked if he could speak and write in favor of the adoption of the merit retention system. The Committee was unanimously of the opinion that this activity is not prohibited by the code, and is in fact encouraged by Canons 4 and 5.

Yours truly,

James T. Carlisle, Chairman
Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges

cc: All Committee Members
Sid White, Clerk of the Supreme Court
William C. Clark, Chairman, Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission
Linda H. Yates, Managing Editor, Florida Bar Journal
Hon. Howard T. Markey, Chairman, Ethics Advisory Panel of the Judicial Conference of the U.S.
All references to the inquiring judge deleted

Participating members: Booth, Carlisle, O'Connell, Richardson, Stephenson and Turner