July 15, 1993
(Canons 6, 3C, 5C (1) - Limited partnership
Re: Committee on Standard of Conduct Governing Judges. Your inquiry dated June 3, 1993
You have written our committee concerning a situation where you are a limited partner in a partnership which owns unimproved real estate. Within the limited partnership, there are two general partners and two limited partners who are members of a law firm in your area. All of the committee members who have responded agree that you should not hear cases involving the lawyers with whom you have a financial interest. Two member believe that Canon 5C (1) applies and that you should recuse yourself in cases involving the law firm even though you have no direct business relationship with the law firm. One member pointed out a potential problem in your hearing cases involving another separate law firm which, in fact, represents the limited partnership. This was not the focus of your inquiry so we do not offer a formal opinion on that. In you inquiry you have referred to prior committee opinions 82-12, 82-14, 78-19 and 76-19. These opinions may offer guidance to judges in a similar situation with you.
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).
Very truly yours,
Nath C. Doughtie, 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, Kahn, Patterson, Tolton and Edwards, Esq..