May 19, 1994

(Opinion 94-20
(Unannounced candidate serving
(on incumbent judge's campaign


PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL

RE: Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
Your inquiry dated April 6, 1994

Dear

As a potential candidate for judicial office, you have requested an opinion from our Committee concerning what activities you may participate in prior to becoming a formal candidate. Six members of our Committee agree that your intent to run for office in 1996 would not qualify you as a candidate since you have taken no formal steps or formally announced your candidacy. Our Committee agrees that a person may become a "candidate" prior to formally opening a campaign account. When a person becomes a candidate, it may vary from situation to situation depending on the nature of the community. In a large community such as yours, telling a few friends should not qualify you as a candidate, but in a small community the situation may be perceived differently.

Three members of our Committee feel that we should not advise you on this issue since our mandate advises us to only advise judges or judicial candidates.

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 So.2d 5 (Fla.1976).

Very truly yours,

 

Nath C. Doughtie, Chairman
Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges

NCD/pds

cc: All Committee Members
Office of the Courts Administrator (name of judge deleted from this copy)

Participating members: Judges Dell, Doughtie, Farina , Goldstein, Green, Kahn, Rushing, Taylor, Tolton and Edwards, Esq.