August 14, 1992
Opinion No. 92-35
Re: Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges - Your inquiry dated June 23, 1992
You, a Judge assigned to criminal division and former assistant state attorney, asked whether the Code permits or prohibits you from writing a letter of recommendation to the Commission of Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies at the request and on the behalf of your local sheriff's department.
The Committee is evenly split on the question.
Five members of the committee believe that Canon 4 permits you to write said letter. They believe pursuant to Canon 4 that a Judge is permitted to write the Commission when the intent and purpose of the letter is the improvement of the administration of justice. Further, pursuant to the commentary to Canon 4, you are in a unique position to contribute to the administration of justice based on your judicial experience and prior service as an assistant state attorney.
Five members of the Committee believe that Canon 2 applies and you should not write a letter which is not solicited by the Commission. These members believe that your letter would lend the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interest of others and that this activity would lead to other requests from worthy groups also seeking judge's stamp of approval. They believe the distinction between solicited and unsolicited letters to be an important distinction.
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).
Harvey L. Goldstein, Chairman
Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
cc: All Committee Members
Office of State Court Administrator (name of inquiring Judge deleted from this copy)
Participating members: Judges Goldstein, Tolton, Green, Levy, Booth, Dell, Doughtie, Farina, Rushing, and Clarke, Esq.