June 18, 1991
Opinion No. 91-5
You have related that the Florida Board of Bar examiners is holding a hearing to decide the possible conditions or requirements that your son-in-law must meet in order to be admitted to the Florida Bar. Your further mention that he has a DUI in his background and it was necessary for him to be evaluated prior to admission to determine his fitness. The evaluation report recommends that it be established that your son-in-law have a stable family and support group. You asked whether you can testify on his behalf before the Florida Bar Examiners to show he does have family stability and support. Because the hearing is impending, you ask for an early opinion.
Of the six members of the Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges who could readily be reached by telephone, all responded the proposed conduct is proscribed by Canon 2B if done voluntarily, but is permitted if done in response to a subpoena or an official inquiry or invitation from the Board of Bar Examiners.
This view is consistent with several of our opinions, particularly opinions numbered 82-15 and 86-10, copies of which are attached. As noted in these opinions, the prohibition of Canon 2B is "limited to investigatory or adjudicatory proceedings either of an administrative, civil, or criminal nature where a person's legal rights, duties, privileges or immunities are ultimately determined."
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,
Jere Tolton., Chairman
Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
cc: All Committee Members
Participating Members: Judges Tolton, Goldstein, Green, Booth, Doughtie, 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 .
Cynthia Grey,Director, 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
Office of the State Courts Administrator, Legal Affairs & Education
Hon. Charles McClure, Chief Judge, Second Judicial Circuit