December 4, 1989
Opinion No. 89/20
Your inquiry poses the following question:
Can a candidate for election to judicial office give a campaign badge to an elected, non-judicial, partisan office holder who is presently in office, for the purpose of having that partisan office holder wear the judicial candidate's campaign badge at partisan and non-partisan public gatherings. Also, can the judicial candidate allow said partisan elected official to actively campaign for said judicial candidate while the partisan office holder is wearing his campaign badge?
After receiving your inquiry, I spoke with you by telephone because I believed there was more to your question than appeared from its face. Our telephone discussion disclosed that you were prompted to seek an advisory opinion based entirely on the conduct of another person who is claiming to be a candidate for the office you seek. You stated that if your opponent can engage in the conduct identified in your inquiry, you, too, intend to follow the same practice.
A majority of the committee has determined that your inquiry is inappropriate for the reason that it originates in the conduct of another candidate. The committee has traditionally refused to render advisory opinions in matters presented in that kind of setting.
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, Doughtie,Frank, Simons 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