April 19, 1993

Opinion 93-24
Canons 2B and 5B
Judging a beauty contest

Dear Judge

You have asked if a judge can act as a "judge" in a local beauty/talent pageant for girls age 13 to 19 years.

You state the event is not a fund raiser, is fully sponsored by a national retail clothing or department store and the pageant winner will be eligible to compete nationally.

Eight of the nine participating Committee members agree that Canon 5B (Civic and charitable activities) permit you to participate in the proposed activity because the activity does not reflect adversely upon your impartiality or interfere with the performance of your judicial duties. However, these members express concern that your involvement not impair the dignity of judicial office and you not lend the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of others.

One member disagrees. He states the beauty contest is presumable sponsored by the national retail store for advertising and promotional reasons. He believes your participation is prohibited by Canon 2B (Should not lend prestige of office to advance private interest of others.)

Three members do not believe your proposed participation is a good idea. They believe you will be hearing from the mothers of the losing contestants for months.

Another member expresses concern that your inquiry does not state where the pageant will be held and for what purpose. If it is to be held at the retail store's premises or in a local mall, he is concerned especially if you will be trying a slip and fall of other tort case with the retail store as a defendant.

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, Kahn, Dell, Doughtie, Goldstein, Farina, Rushing and Clarke, Esq.

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