September 14, 1987
Opinion No. 87/13
Canons 2 and 3C(1)(d)(ii)
Due to the volume of inquiries that the Committee has received during the past few months, Judge Tedder asked that I respond to your inquiry. I submitted the question raised by your letter of May 29, 1987, to the full Committee.
We understand that you have hired a law clerk whose wife, also an attorney, is employed by the attorney general's office in your district. You asked whether the law clerk may work on appeals or other matters from the office of the attorney general provided your law clerk's wife is not the attorney of record. We understand that both the attorney general's office and the public defender's office is aware that your law clerk's wife is employed by the attorney general. We also understand that you have taken precautions to make certain that your clerk does not work on any cases in which his wife has participated.
The Committee has concluded that neither Canon 2 nor Canon 3C(1)(d) would prohibit employment of the law clerk. This opinion is predicated upon implementation of the precautions that you have indicated that you would take to assure that the law clerk does not work on any cases in which his wife has participated.
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,
George W. Tedder, Jr.
cc: All Committee Members
Participating members: Judges Blanchard, Booth, Dell, Frank,
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
Brooke S. Kennerly, Executive Director, 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