May 25, 1989
Opinion No. 89/9
Gift or other benefit
I apologize for the delay in responding to your inquiry. On a recent occasion, however, I telephonically advised you of the committee's consensus with respect to your questions.
You have asked whether you would violate the Code of Judicial Conduct if you were to accompany your wife to a conference sponsored by a trade association. It appears that your wife is an author who will be a featured speaker at the conference. Apparently the cost of hotel accommodations and associated events will be borne by the sponsor.
The committee is unanimous in its view that under the circumstances described in your inquiry you would not violate Canon 5. The benefit flowing to you from your presence at the conference is not a gift or favor prohibited by Canon 5C(4). The value of the benefit, however, would be reportable under Canon 6 if the portion of the total expenditure attributable to your presence were to exceed $100.
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, Doughtie,Frank, Simons, 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