February 25, 1983

Opinion No. 83/3
Judge completing probating estate after assuming bench

Dear Judge

This is in response to your inquiry of January 21st, 1983. You want to know if you may complete the probating of two estates and one real estate transaction after becoming a judge. In one of the estates you are the attorney for the personal representative, and in the other you are the personal representative and an attorney. The real estate transaction only involves your attendance at a closing. Article 5, Section 13 of the Constitution of the State of Florida prohibits judges from engaging in the practice of law. Canon 5D of the Code of Judicial Conduct prohibits a judge from serving as an executor, administrator, trustee, guardian, or other fiduciary, except in the case of close family members. Your letter indicates that estates are not those of close family members. Canon 5F prohibits a judge form practicing law. Opinion No. 82/4 seems to be dispositive of this inquiry. A copy is included for your convenience.

One member suggests you farm out these cases, preferably to lawyers who do not often appear before you. That member also suggests you may share in the fee, provided these matters are not called before you.

Yours truly,

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

copies to:
All Committee Members