August 27, 1991
Opinion No. 91-18
Canons 2(A) and (B) and 4(A)
Nominations for awards
You have asked whether you may nominate an attorney for the Selig Golden Award and a fellow judge for the Franklin Flaschner Judicial Award, sponsored respectively by the Criminal Section of the Florida Bar and the American Bar Association.
Nine members of the ten member committee responded affirmatively that you may nominate a fellow judge for the Franklin Flaschner award. This activity is governed by Canon 4, which allows a judge to engage in activities to improve the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice. However, two of the nine felt your identity should not be disclosed to the nominee.
Five members of the committee found no distinction between your second question and your first, and determined by should also be allowed to nominate an attorney for the Selig Golden Award, also citing Canon 4. However, three of the five members said your identity should not be disclosed to the nominee and two members also expressed that you should be personally familiar with the nominee's activities. Four committee members agree this activity is proscribed in that it could be perceived as favoring one attorney over others and you would be lending the prestige of your office to advance the interests of another, violative of Canons 2(A) and (B).
In summary, a majority of the committee finds it permissible to nominate a fellow judge for a bar association sponsored award with the caveat by two members that your identity not be disclosed to the nominee. The committee is split whether you can nominate an attorney for a par sponsored award and there is no majority for either position.
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 Green, Tolton, Dell, Doughtie,Frank, Goldstein, Farina, Rushing 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