November 19, 1993
Personal and Confidential
Referring DUI offenders to
attend victim impact panel including
fee and requiring probationers to attend AA
Re: Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
Your inquiry dated October 19, 1993
You have requested an opinion from our Committee under the following circumstances:
You currently preside over many DUI cases and require first-time convicted DUI drivers to attend and complete, as a special condition of their probation, a program called "DUI Victim Impact Panel". This Victim Impact Panel operates in conjunction with Mothers Against Drunk Driving. It imposes a fee of $5.00 which is solely for the cost of running the program and not a fund raiser. You have additionally inquired concerning requiring convicted DUI offenders to attend Alcoholic Anonymous as a special condition of probation.
All responding members of our Committee agree that both of these practices are permitted.
We would note that prior Committee opinions have opined that judges should not require defendants to make direct monetary contributions to organizations such as MADD in lieu of fines. We would also note that anytime the defendant is required to participate in a program not specifically authorized by statute, that the judge should be personally satisfied that the program is a well-run program and that it truly serves the purpose for which it is intended. Since AA has been generally recognized as an acceptable program, there should be no problem with making AA a requirement of probation.
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, Green, Kahn, Patterson, Rushing and Edwards, Esq.