January 21, 1992
PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL
(OPINION NO: 92-1
(Letter to Florida
(Canon 2 ( B )
RE: Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges - Your inquiry dated November 19, 1991.
You ask whether you may write a letter to the Florida Bar in defense of an attorney who has had a grievance filed against him. The attorney made the request after a client complained to the Bar about the attorney's handling of a trial over which you presided .
Canon 2 (B) prohibits a judge from testifying voluntarily as a character witness. Although there is some disagreement among responding committee members whether you would be a character witness, all agreed that you should not write the letter unless the Bar first requests information from you. Two members of the committee suggested you explain to the attorney you cannot send an unsolicited letter to the Bar, but may respond to an official inquiry from them. A third member suggests you advise the Bar you have pertinent information on the subject, and await their inquiry before making a disclosure.
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 hat 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 , Levy ,
Doughtie, Goldstein, Farina, 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