(OPINION NO: 91-22
(MEMBERSHIP IN SPECIFIC ORGANI ZATION

PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL

Re: Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges,
Your inquiry of September 24, 1991.

Dear

You ask whether you may belong to an organization named Women in Distress which is a non-profit, quasi-governmental organization which provides shelter, food, clothing and counseling to battered women and their children. The organization also provides court-ordered group and individual counseling to defendants convicted of spouse abuse and generally attempts to educate the community on domestic violence. Your involvement would be with the speaker's bureau.

All the members of the ten member committee that responded all agreed membership in this organization is in violation or Canon 3(C) ,5(B), and 2(A)and(B), since involvement would detract from the judge's role as an impartial magistrate. However, one member felt simple membership is permitted, so long as you do not publicly support the organization or solicit members.

The responding members felt you should also be aware that membership solicitation will be expressly prohibited if the 1990 ABA Canons are adopted as suggested.

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
So.2d 5 (Fla.1976)

With regards, I remain

Yours Very Truly,

Jere Tolton, Chairman
Committee on Standards of
Conduct Governing Judges

JT/mc

cc: Committee Members

Participating Members:

Judges Tolton, Green, Booth, Dell, Doughtie, Frank, Goldstein, Farina and Clarke, Esq., and Rushing

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
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
Hon. Charles McClure, Chief Judge, Second Judicial Circuit
Office of State Court Administrator, Legal Affairs & Education