Opinion 82-03

March 15, 1982

Dear Judge:

This is in response to your inquiry as to whether you may properly continue as president of the Forum Club after becoming a judge. The purpose of the club is to provide as speakers people who are active in government and politics. Among persons who have previously addressed the club are Shirley Hufstedler, secretary of the United States Department of Education, Lynden O. Pindling, Prime Minister of the Bahamas, Singapore's Ambassador to the United States, the president of Florida Power and Light, Senators Paula Hawkins and Lawton Childs (sic), Representative Daniel Mica, and the Chancellor of the University of Florida, President Jimmy Carter, Vice-President Walter Mondale, Robert Graham, governor of Florida, William Saxby, United States Attorney General and Ambassador to India, William M. (Fishbait) Miller, Retired Doorkeeper, United States House of Representatives, former Governor Leroy Collins, and many others.

According to the by-laws, the club is non-partisan and non-profit. It also gives scholarships to students. Of the eight members responding, six were of the opinion the activity violates Canon 7A(4) which provides:

A Judge should not engage in any other political activity except on behalf of measures to improve the law, the legal system or the administration of justice.

One member felt that Canon 5D which provides:

A Judge may serve as an officer, director, trustee or non-legal advisor of an educational, religious, charitable, fraternal or civic organization, not conducted for the economic or political advantage of its members...

allows this activity. That member nevertheless recommended that you not serve as an officer because of the possibility of your being associated with what is perceived by others as political activity undertaken by the club. One members dissented. That member looked on this activity as educational or civic.

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. Mark Hulsey, 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