May 24, 1993
Advertisement containing judge's endorsement
You state that you and your spouse have recently purchased a summer home
in North Carolina. The developer is also a friend who wants to publish an
advertisement that contains your endorsement of the development. The ad
is entitled: Why would Judge and Mrs. ____________
choose _________ Mountain? It contains a quote from you stating how delighted you are with your new home. The ad concludes by asking the reader to come and see what you and your spouse are so delighted about.
You ask whether the advertisement is ethically appropriate and if the proposed ad is not appropriate you ask what alterations does the Committee suggest to bring the ad into compliance with the Code.
All nine participating committee members agree the proposed advertisement clearly violates Canon 2B in that it lends the prestige of judicial office to benefit the private interest of others.
Six Committee members do not believe the advertisement can be modified to bring it into compliance with the Code.
One member is upset that "a respected judge" would allow an advertisement that gives the impression a public official lives so high off the hog and with so much free time that the official requires a summer home. This Committee member does not believe you should publicize your lifestyle.
Four Committee members believe the ad might be altered to be acceptable, however, they do not believe the advertisement should be published or distributed in your area or the State of Florida.
The Committee appreciates your inquiry and hopes this opinion is helpful.
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 Green, Kahn, Patterson, Doughtie, Dell, Goldstein, Farina, Rushing and Edwards, Esq.
Office of State Court Administrator, Legal Affairs & Education