Opinion 81-09

September 23, 1981

Dear Judge:

This is in response to your inquiry of August 20th, 1981, wherein you inquired as to the propriety of your wife typing transcripts of testimony taken at trial over which you preside. Of the nine members responding to this inquiry, four were of the opinion that there was no impropriety because the typist has no discretion as to what she types and, if she should make alterations i the transcript, they would be noted by the court reporter when he compares the transcript with his notes.

One of our members felt it was inadvisable for your wife to work for the service designated as your official court reporter. Four of our members expressed some strong reservations concerning your designation of your wife's employer as the official court reporter. As one of our members put it:

"Our Committee ruled that there was no impropriety in the summer employment of judges' children in the State Attorney's office or in the office of the Clerk of the Court, in opinions number 80-5 and 80-6. In ruling on those inquiries, however, our vote was based, in large part, on the independence of the office of the State Attorney and the office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court from the judge. In this case, I do not sense that the decision for the designation of the wife's employer is independent of the judge, but rather that it is under his total control. There is stiff competition in our circuit for this work.

In short, the judge may place himself in a position of criticism because his wife and her employer have, apparently, been given and advantage due to his position as judge."

Finally, one of our members suggested, in the event that particular reporting service was used, that the service pre-screen of the transcripts so that your wife would not have occasion to transcribe a proceeding over which you presided.

Yours truly,

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

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

Participating members: Judges Booth, Carlisle, Hewitt, Letts, Nesbitt, O'Connell, Richardson, Turner and Samuel Powers, Attorney.