July 13, 1993
(Canon 3C - Disqualification - Assistant PD announces intent to oppose Judge in next election
(Canon 7B - Campaign Conduct - Notifying Secretary of State of Active Opposition
Re: Committee on Standard of Conduct Governing Judges. Your inquiry dated May 26, 1993
You have asked whether you should disqualify yourself from all cases involving a certain assistant public defender who has advised you that he definitely will run against you when you are up for re-election in the summer of 1994.
You state that you are a circuit judge who sits in an area without any other circuit judges for over 75 miles is any direction. You handle all cases--civil, criminal, probate, family and juvenile. The assistant public defender has further advise you that he has sought the support and advise from your state attorney and other attorneys and that his campaign against you was "nothing personal" but he "wanted what you had." You are concerned that any adverse ruling involving this assistant public defender or his clients will have the effect of portraying the judiciary in a negative light.
All nine participation committee members agree that you should disqualify yourself pursuant to Canon 3C. You should also discuss this matter with your Chief Judge and the Public Defender in your court to attempt to find and administrative solution to your problem.
Until an administrative solution is found, you can follow the rule of necessity adopted in other state and federal courts. You should continue to hear and decide cases even though the assistant public defender represents the defendant when your failure to hear the case would result in an injustice. In applying the rule of necessity you should disclose your situation on the record.
In addition, you state a local citizen has chose to actively oppose your re-election. You state that you are frequently attacked in this citizen's newsletter and in his most recent newsletter he has called you "corrupt" and urged anyone to run against you.
All nine participating committee members agree that this opposition is sufficient for you to file a certificate with the Secretary of State with a copy to the JQC that your candiacy has drawn active opposition.
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).
Harvey Goldstein, Chairman
Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
cc: All Committee Members
Office of State Court Administrator (name of Judge deleted from this copy)
Participating members: Judges Doughtie ,Green, Farina, Goldstein, Kahn, Patterson, Rushing Tolton and Edwards, Esq..