March 1, 1989
Opinion No. 89/4
Unsolicited communication with Fla. Board of Bar Examiners
In your inquiry you have asked whether you and the other members of your court may communicate with the Florida Board of Bar Examiners for the purpose of asking the Board to expedite the application of a judicial law clerk, You state that the "(proposed) letter is to gain some response from the bar examiners." A majority of the Committee has determined that such communication with the Board is inappropriate.
You have invited our attention to Opinions 72/15, 75/6, 75/18, 75/30, 77/10, and 79/3. It is the Committee's view that the foregoing opinions do not support communicating with the Bar for the purpose you have indicated. Canon 2B prohibits the prestige of judicial office from being used to advance the private interests of others. It is evident from the contemplated communication that you and your colleagues would be acting in the capacity of character witnesses in support of the applicant's effort to gain admission to the Bar. Finally, there is nothing before us to suggest that your communication with the Bar is in response to a request from the Florida Board of Bar Examiners.
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).
Richard H. Frank, Chairman
Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
cc: All Committee Members
Participating Members: Judges Green, Tolton, Booth, Dell, Frank, Goldstein, and Clarke, Esquire.
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. Walter K. Stapleton, 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
Mr. Richard Kuhn, Court Administrator, Lee County
Hon. Thomas H . Barkdull , Jr ., Third District Court of Appeal
Ms. Georgeanne Marsh, Center for Professional Responsibility, American Bar Association