April 16, 1984
Opinion No. 84/7
This is in response to your telephone inquiry of April 11, 1984, which revised your written inquiry of April 4, 1980 (sic), leaving specifically the following question for the committee's consideration: may your wife accept a position in the State Treasurer and Insurance Commissioner's office as a field representative. You explain that a field representative takes statements from persons who have complaints against an insurance company as part of the Insurance Commissioner's regulatory function. You, as a Circuit Judge in the Criminal Division, have not had litigation arising from this type of activity and do not anticipate any; however, you state that should a case arise in which your wife had been involved while working for the agency, you would, of course, recuse yourself.
The committee was polled by telephone for response to your inquiry, and those responding were unanimous in their view that this employment does not present a problem under the Canons.
A review of past opinions regarding employment by the spouse or child of a judge indicates that the employment her in question is not sufficiently involved or related to the particular court or its operation and thus not subject to the difficulties inherent in, for example, the wife of a circuit judge being employed as an Assistant to the Director of a Pre-trial Intervention Program. In the latter case, Opinion 84/2, the majority of our committee recently responded that the situation would present the appearance of impropriety because of the nature of the wife's employment. In an opinion 78/21, we held that the wife could be employed by the Hillsborough County Board of Criminal Justice but stated that "If your wife's employment should place her in a position of interest with reference to any matter coming before you (county judge) then you should recuse yourself."
With the same caveat, the committee answers your inquiry in the affirmative.
Anne C. Booth, Chairman
Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
cc: All Committee Members
All reference to the inquiring judge is deleted from the copies sent to the following individuals.
Mr. Sid White, Clerk of the Supreme Court of Florida
Linda Yates, Managing Editor, The Florida Bar Journal
Mark Hulsey, Esq., Chairman, Judicial Qualifications Commission.
Hon. Howard T. Markey, Chairman, Ethics Advisory Panel of the Judicial Conference of the United States .
Jeffrey M. Shaman, Esquire, Director, Center for Judicial Conduct Organizations
Ms. Jean Underhill, Librarian, Broward County Law Library
Mr. Robert Wallace, Librarian, Dade County Law Library
Mr. Brian Polley, Librarian, Supreme Court of Florida
Participating members: Judges Booth, Carlisle, Dell, Green, Grube, Hewitt, Letts, Tedder and Turner, and Attorney Samuel J. Powers, Jr.