August 11, 1993
Canon 5C - Lease of office building
Re: Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges - Your inquiry dated July 3, 1993
You have written concerning a proposed lease of a building you own to two separate corporations. The first was from a non-profit human services corporation which has a contract with the county court to provide court probation supervision. This corporation would not actually use the facility for probation supervision. In Opinion 90-1 our committee felt that Canon 5C prohibited a lease agreement with the Department of Corrections. All nine committee members who responded to your inquiry felt that it would be improper to lease your building to this corporation since the corporation had contracts with the court system.
The second proposed lease of this building was to another non-profit human services corporation that had no direct contracts with the court but did contract with HRS to provide family counseling and juvenile services. As a county judge you are not assigned to the family or juvenile division. Five of the nine committee members felt that it was proper for you to enter into a lease with this corporation. Four members concluded that you should not lease the building to this second corporation since the activities of HRS are closely linked with the activities of the courts.
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 Dell, Doughtie, Farina, Goldstein, Green, Kahn, Patterson, Rushing, Tolton and Edwards, Esq.