September 20, 1985
Opinion No. 85/13
Canons 5B and 2B
You state that some time ago you approached the County Commission of your county about creating a "Community Service" fund. The purpose of the fund is two-fold: first, to generate additional funding for the county probation department; and second, to be used by the county for any worthwhile community service such as expanding programs in the recreation department, adding park facilities, or providing additional funding for indigent services. The county controls the fund.
In some cases, you require defendants to donate to the fund in exchange for withholding adjudication. You also allow defendants to donate money to the fund in order for them to receive credit on community service work which is required upon DUI convictions.
The six responding members of the committee unanimously agree that your conduct in these matters is controlled by Canon 5B, which proscribes a judge from soliciting funds or permitting the use of the prestige of his office for that purpose. One committee member states that your conduct is also contrary to Canon 2B. Opinion 84/11 deals with an inquiry similar to yours.
You also state that you are a county judge and have considered applying for the circuit court. You state that you are morally opposed to capital punishment and "categorically" could never impose the death sentence.
The responding committee members unanimously agree that his inquiry is hypothetical and does not justify a response. You may wish to read the case of, In Re: Inquiry concerning a judge, William C. Gridley, Circuit Judge (Supreme Court 417 So.2d 950), wherein Justice Alderman, writing for the court, quoted from a prior opinion: In Re: Inquiry concerning a judge, etc. (357 So.2d 179) and stated: "Judges are required to follow the law and apply it fairly and objectively to all who appear before them. No judge is permitted to substitute his concept of what the law ought to be for what the law actually is."
With regards, I remain
Yours very truly,
Oliver L. Green, Jr.
Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
cc: All Committee Members
Participating members: Judges Booth, Blanchard, Goldstein,
Green, Grube, Letts and Attorney M. Craig Massey
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