April 1, 1993
Canon 3C Disqualification
Disclosure - Attorney was campaign worker
You have asked whether you must disclose that an attorney in a case before you as an active campaign worker in your last contested election. The supporter either distributed leaflets, held signs on street corners, walked door-to-door, operated a telephone bank, threw a party to "introduce the candidate" or wrote letters to clients urging a vote for you.
Further you ask if you must disclose the above if the attorney before you is associated with a law firm that gave active campaign support.
All eight participating Committee members, pursuant to Nathanson v. Korvick, 577 So.2d 943 (Fla. 1991) and MacKenzie v. Super Kids Bargain Store Inc., 565 So.2d 1332 (Fla. 1990), and our prior Opinion 92-44, agree that you need not disclose that an attorney in a case before you was a campaign worker.
Two Committee members expressed concern that the question depends on particular facts and circumstances. One Committee member stated he would feel differently if the attorney was on the judge's campaign committee.
One Committee member cites Pool Water Products, Inc. v. Pools by L.S. Rule, 18 FLW D424 (4 DCA, 27 Jan 1993) that each judge must "make a conscientious assessment of matters which are known to the judge which might be interpreted as affecting the judge's impartiality. The judge should disclose matters which he or she believes might reasonably impair his or her impartiality. However, after searching his or her conscience and determining that the matter will not have an effect, disclosure is not required." Further, he states in a few cases public disclosure may have already been made in the campaign financial disclosure reports filed with the Secretary of State's Elections Office or the county's elections department.
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
cc: All Committee Members
Participating members: Judges Tolton, Green, Booth, Doughtie, Goldstein, Farina, Rushing and Clarke, Esq.
Office of State Court Administrator, Legal Affairs &Education