August 4, 1992


Opinion No. 92-29
Canon 4 - Sponsoring Seminars
Canon 7 - Petition to Qualify for Election

Re: Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges - Your inquiry dated May 28, 1992


First, you have asked whether you may sponsor and organize seminars for attorneys with monies raised going to Circuit and/or to defray judicial expenses.

The Committee unanimously has concluded that Canon 4 of the Code permits this proposed activity. You may "speak, write, lecture, teach and participate in ...activities concerning the law, the legal system and the advancement of justice' provided your activity "doesn't cast doubt on ...capacity to decide impartially any issue," and the acitivity (sic) does "not detract from the dignity of the office or interfere with the performance of your judicial duties."

Second, you ask whether a Judge may use the petition method to qualify for re-election and thereby avoid the qualifying fee. Further, you ask whether the petition method can be used when there is no "active opposition."

Canon 7(b)(2) provides for the establishment of a committee to secure campaign funds. The Committee believes a Judge who is up for re-election may establish a committee to qualify by petition. Qualifying fees or qualifying petitions are statutory requirements for the election of judges and either method is available.

However, three members of the Committee would question whether a Judge could take the statutory required oath that payment of the qualifying fee would constitute a substantial economic hardship.

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).


Sincerely,

Harvey L. Goldstein, Chairman
Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges

HLG/mh

cc: All Committee Members

Participating members: Judges Tolton, Green, Levy, Booth, Dell, Doughtie, Goldstein, Farina, Rushing, Green 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