December 23, 1992

Opinion 92-45
Canon 4A: Lecturing, teaching
Canon 5C(1): Interference with performance of duty

Dear Judge

You have been invited to be a lecturer at a legal seminar sponsored by a private corporation. You expect to be paid expenses and an honorarium. Further, you expect the seminar to take place on a weekday during normal court hours.

Canon 4A specifically authorizes a judge to speak, lecture, teach and participate in the activities covering the law, the legal system and the administration of justice. Prior committee opinions 83-7, 82-6, 81-3, 77-14, 75-28, and 73-17 have generally approved of this activity.

However, Article V, Section 13 of the Florida Constitution states that all "judges shall devote full time to their judicial duties."

Also Canon 5C(1) states a judge shall refrain from business dealings that interfere with the proper performance of judicial duties.

Six members of the Committee agree that you can lecture as stated if you can demonstrate or articulate why or how the time of the lecture does not detract from the proper performance of your judicial duties or that you are devoting full time to your judicial duties. Three members emphasize that your proposed activity is acceptable provided you can arrange the activity so as to not impair the performance of your judicial duties.

One member agrees you could participate in the activity during your vacation time. However, this committee member is concerned how you are going to explain to a litigant or attorney who cannot obtain a hearing date for two to three months.

One member is bothered that a judge is receiving compensation for teaching or lecturing at the the same time the judge is being paid for judicial duties.

Two members would advise against accepting outside work during normal court operation hours. They state the activity gives the appearance that you are not a full time public servant.

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,

Harvey Goldstein, 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.

Office of State Court Administrator, Legal Affairs &Education