January 23, 1991
Canons 5C and 6A
You inquire as to the appropriateness of several actions you plan to take in the course of leaving private practice to become a county judge. Those actions include selling your professional association's (P.A.) intangible assets to your stepson, a practicing attorney; leasing the P.A.'s tangible assets to your stepson; leasing office space to your stepson and other attorneys for their practices; and causing your P.A.'s articles of incorporation to be amended so that it will no longer qualify as a professional service corporation, eligible to render legal services.
A majority of responding committee members believe the proposed actions are appropriate. In your inquiry you acknowledge that Canon 3(C)(1)(d) will necessitate your recusal from any case in which your stepson appears. It is the opinion of the committee that disclosure to all parties must be made when an attorney who is leasing office space from you, not your stepson, appears before you.
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).
With regards, I remain,
Yours very truly,
Oliver L. Green, Jr., Chairman
Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
cc: All Committee Members
Participating Members: Judges Green, Tolton, Booth, Doughtie, 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
Judson Orrick, 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 .
Deborah Solomon, American Judicature Society
Ms. Jean Underhill, Librarian, Broward County Law Library
Mr. Robert Wallace, Librarian, Dade County Law Library
Ms. Joan D. Cannon, Librarian, Supreme Court of Florida
William D. Wilkinson, Court Administrator, Lee County
Hon. Thomas H . Barkdull , Jr ., Third District Court of Appeal
Lynda Glyman, Esq. Center for Professional Responsibility, American Bar Association