May 29, 1987
Opinion No. 87/7
Community service performed at service organization managed by wife
A majority of the Committee has responded to your letter of April 13, 1987. You stated that your wife manages an office of the American Red Cross and that recently a defendant sentenced by you elected to perform community service at the Red Cross office managed by your wife. You stated that you did not direct the defendant to perform the service at that Red Cross office, nor did you suggest it as a place to perform the community service. You asked whether you are ethically obligated to require your wife to turn away defendants who are sentenced by you to community service.
The Committee unanimously agreed that provided you did not participate in the selection of the Red Cross office as the place for performance of community services, that you would have no ethical obligation to ask that your wife refuse to accept community service work from defendants sentenced by you. The Committee also concluded that you need not exclude the Red Cross as a place for the performance of community service. However the Committee concluded that should a question arise as to the defendant's performance of his community service work at the Red Cross office managed by your wife, such as in a probation violation proceeding, that you should recuse yourself from consideration of that matter.
We have based our opinion on the information furnished in your letter. The committee is expressly charged with rendering advisory opinions interpreting the application of the Code of Judicial Conduct to specific circumstances confronting or affecting a judge or judicial candidate. Its opinions are advisory to the inquiring party, to the Judicial Qualifications Commission and to the judiciary at large. Conduct that is consistent with an advisory opinion issued by the committee may be evidence of good faith on the part of the judge, but the Judicial Qualifications Commission is not bound by the interpretive opinions issued by the committee. Petition of the Committee on Standards of Conduct for Judges 327 So2d 5 (Fla. 1976).
We appreciate your inquiry and trust that the foregoing information will be of some assistance to you.
Very truly yours,
John W. Dell
cc: All Committee Members
Participating members: Judges Blanchard, Booth, Dell, Frank, Goldstein,
Green, Shutter, Tedder and Attorney F. Shields McManus
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