January 25, 1993

Opinion 93-3
Compliance with Code-Senior Judge

Dear Judge

You state that you will soon retire from the bench and that you plan to sit as a senior (retired) judge from time to time.

You ask whether you may

(1) serve as a mediator on occasion;
(2) make a public announcement of your mediation services;
(3) perform wedding ceremonies or take oaths during periods for which you have not been recalled to active service as a judge.

Also, you ask whether the Code of Judicial Conduct continues to apply as if you were still on active judicial service.

Par. C of the section of the Code entitled "Compliance with the Code..." sets forth the Code requirements for retired (senior) judges. You should plan to comply with all provisions of the code except Canons 5C(1)-(7), 5D, 5E, 5G and 6A. You should not accept any assignment in which your financial business dealings, investments or extra judicial activities might be directly or indirectly affected.

In prior opinions 91-24 and 85-3, the Committee opined that the code permits a retired judge to work as a mediator. However, we opined that a retired judge eligible for recall should probably not associate with a law firm as a mediator. An association with a law firm can have many forms such as sharing a copy machine to sharing of fees. Therefore, some associations in the opinion of the majority of the Committee may preclude your recall to active judicial service.

The majority of the Committee believes that at a minimum you are required to disclose your association and/or financial interest or relation you have with any lawyer or law firm resulting from your work as a mediator to avoid an appearance of impropriety. In opinion 92-30, we opined that you could make a public announcement of your mediation services.

None of the participating Committee members are aware of any Code or ethical prohibition that would prevent you from performing wedding ceremonies. However, one member of the Committee has advised that Attorney General Opinion 73-83 has interpreted Florida Statute §741.07 to the effect that a retired judge not on temporary assignment "would have no authority as a 'judicial officer' to exercise the ex officio function under the Constitution, statutes or case law of this state of performing marriage ceremonies pursuant to §741.07 F.S."

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, Doughtie, Goldstein, Farina, Rushing

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