December 23, 1991
(OPINION NO: 91-30
( Forms, pamphlets and lists in judge's office)
RE: Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges-Your
inquiry dated October 14, 1991.
You ask for an advisory opinion on the following three questions:
(a) In pro se dissolution cases, can your office distribute forms for final judgment and orders for temporary support?
(b) May a judge have in his or her chambers literature concerning divorces?
(c) May your judicial assistant advise of or can there be made available in your office a list of marriage counselors in your county?
Nine members of the ten member committee responded to your request. A majority of members felt it is permissible to have literature concerning divorces and a list of marriage counselors in your area available in your office. A majority of the committee members answered your questions 2 and 3 in the affirmative . Two members responded negatively to question 2. One member responded negatively to question 3 and another, member felt your judicial assistant should not advise others of the marriage counselors in the county, but could have handy a list of the available counselors in your county.
The Committee, with one member not responding because of insufficient
information, was evenly divided on whether you could distribute the forms
in the manner and fashion indicated in your first question. All, however,
agreed you may prepare your own orders and judgments on a case by case basis.
Another member wrote that you could distribute the forms in the manner described
under a uniform local rule from your Chief Judge.
In summary, the Committee is deadlocked as to your first question, and is unable to give you a clear directive. Questions 2 and 3 are answered in the affirmative.
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