April 9, 1985
Opinion No. 85/6
You inquiry is as follows:
My husband's daughter's husband (my "stepson-in-law") is an associate in a large [out-of-state] law firm which maintains a [Florida] office. He is employed in the [Florida] office as one of 11 attorneys. Would I be required to recuse myself in cases in which the firm appears as counsel, even when my "stepson-in-law" is not handling the matter?
This inquiry is governed by Canon 3, and the question raised was most recently dealt with in the Committee's Opinion No. 85/2.
The majority of the Committee recommends that you disclose the relationship and that the procedure of Canon 3D be followed.
In making this recommendation, the Committee is mindful that the commentary under Canon 3C does not require "automatic" disqualification in this type of situation, but a number of the members of the committee would, nevertheless, personally disqualify themselves under the 3C procedure. On the other hand, one member of the Committee would vote that disclosure and Canon 3D procedure should be confined to proceedings actually handled by the lawyer/relative or those in which the lawyer has an interest that could be substantially affected. The majority view, however, is that the relationship between the judge and associate should be disclosed and recusal offered for the reasons stated in Opinion 85/2.
The Committee wishes to thank you for your inquiry and hopes that this response has been of assistance to you.
Anne C. Booth, Chairman
Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
cc: All Committee Members
Participating members: Judges Booth, Blanchard, Goldstein, Dell, Turner,
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
Kathleen T. Phillips, 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