June 20, 1991
Opinion No. 91-6
You inquire as to whether you are permitted to participate in a college fund raising scheme whereby your donation will be advertised as a lure for matching funds from other donors. All responding members of the committee believe that a contribution in your name is permitted under Canon 5B(2) of the Code of Judicial Conduct, provided you insist on not being a party to the matching program.
Succinctly stated, you cannot allow yourself to be identified with contribution knowing that this arrangement is intended to attract additional contributions. On the other hand, there is no proscription against you making such a donation anonymously, even knowing that matching funds will be solicited.
Canon 5B(2) provides as follows:
"A judge should not solicit funds for any educational, religious, charitable, fraternal, or civic organization, or use or permit the use of the prestige of his office for that purpose, but he may be listed as an officer, director, or trustee of such an organization. He should not be a speaker or the guest of honor at an organization's fund raising events, but her may attend such events."
One committee member disagrees with some of the above analysis. It is this committee member's opinion that your identity is not likely to be a lightning rod for matching funds. This member concedes, however, that you should not allow your identity to be published on the same page as the responding contributors. This member also points out that judges regularly have their names and offices identified with respect to contributions to the National Judicial College in Reno.
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., Immediate Past Chairman
Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
cc: All Committee Members
Participating Members: Judges Green, Tolton, Booth, Dell, Frank, Goldstein, Farina, 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