December 30 , 1991
(OPINION NO: 91-31
(Judge riding with
( as observer
RE: Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges - Your
inquiry dated October 29, 1991
You ask whether you as a criminal court judge may ride as an observer with law enforcement on an infrequent basis to enhance your judicial performance.
A majority of the committee members felt such activity is permissible so long as it is done on a limited basis and you disqualify yourself from any criminal case that originated in your presence. One of these members felt a single ride was sufficient and there be no publicity surrounding the occasion. Two committee members were of the opinion the proposed activity violated the Canons and should be prohibited . These members felt this pursuit may cast doubt on your impartiality, interfere with your judicial duties and may be perceived as detracting from the dignity of your office, violative of Canons 5 (A) and 4, respectively.
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
JT / mc
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