October 4, 1993
Personal and Confidential
Recusal on criminal cases - knowledge of victims
Re: Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges - Your inquiry dated August 25, 1993
You have requested an opinion regarding whether or not recusal is required or recommended under the following circumstances. You are presiding in a first degree murder case in which the State is seeking the death penalty. The victim was employed as the branch manager of a local bank where you are a customer. You were acquainted with the victim through your dealings at the bank. You have made record disclosure to all parties but no one has filed a motion to recuse.
All ten of the Committee members responding find no ethical problem in you remaining on the case.
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, Farina, Goldstein, Green, Kahn, Patterson, Rushing, Taylor, Tolton and Edwards, Esq.