May 9, 1984

Opinion No. 84/9
Appointment to a committee on county redistricting

Dear

This is in response to your inquiry as to whether you may accept a position as chairman of a committee charged with redistricting a county within the circuit in which you presently serve as chief judge.

Canon 5G is on point here and provides:

A judge should not accept appointment to a governmental committee, commission, or other position that is concerned with issues of fact or policy on matters other than the improvement of the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice. A judge, however, may represent his country, state or locality on ceremonial occasions or in connection with historical, educational, or cultural activities.

Commentary


Valuable services have been rendered in the past to the states and the nation by judges appointed by the executive to undertake important extrajudicial assignments. The appropriateness of conferring these assignments on judges must be reassessed, however, in light of the demands on judicial manpower created by today's crowded dockets and the need to protect the courts from involvement in extrajudicial matters that may prove to be controversial. Judges should not be expected or permitted to accept governmental appointments that could interfere with the effectiveness and independence of the judiciary.

One member responding stated: " A judge obviously should not be involved in any decision which could directly or indirectly be said to have an effect on the partisan political process." Another member of the committee questioned whether the judge, in accepting such an appointment, would be entering "a political thicket." Two members of the committee were willing to receive more information concerning the exact function to be performed by the redistricting committee. However, the majority of the committee responded unequivocally in the negative to the inquiry and recommend that you not accept the appointment.

Sincerely,

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, and Attorney Samuel J. Powers, Jr.