December 3, 1991
OPINION NO: 91-27
RE: Recusal due to spouse's employment
Re: Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges - your inquiry dated October 28, 1991.
You ask whether you should disqualify yourself from certain county government cases because of your spouse's employment with the county in a managerial capacity.
The nine responding members of the ten member committee unanimously agreed Canon 3 (C) (1) (a) and 3 (C) (1) (d) are applicable. When read together, the committee' s interpretation was you should recuse yourself in those instances when your spouse's position with the county places him in a position of interest with any case coming before you. Specifically, you should step down in all cases involving your spouse' s department. In all other cases involving the county, you should at least disclose your relationship.
Whether you must recuse after disclosure if no one objects, the committee felt Canon 3 (D) controls, and should be followed.
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 , Green , Booth , Dell , Doughtie, Goldstein, Farina, Rushing, and Clarke, Esq.
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