January 21, 1992

(OPINION NO: 92-3
(Resignation from
( Social clubs

RE: Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges -- Your inquiry dated November 20, 1991.

You ask whether you must resign from honorary membership in two social clubs, one apparently an exclusive men's club, the other, an Italian - American Social Club. You state the annual dues are waived for you, but you pay for all meals when attending meetings. Your only obligation is to install officers when requested .

The majority of the committee agrees membership in the two clubs is permitted so long as membership in same does not reflect adversely upon your impartiality or interfere with the performance of your duties. Several members feel membership is appropriate, but question the waiver of the annual dues. In previous opinions, the Committee has suggested waiver of dues in not appropriate except for bar associations . One member, who thinks the waiver of dues is a problem, also said you should resign from the all male club because it is discriminatory.

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, Levy 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