September 8, 1994
PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL
(Inheriting business venture
(Other shareholder convicted
(of Federal drug charge
Re: Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
Your Inquiry Dated August 9, 1994
You have requested an Opinion for our Committee on whether it would be ethically improper for you to become a shareholder of a corporation that your husband and his partner, who is a convicted felon, are forming. You are concerned that in the event something happened to your husband, you could find yourself in the position of being the only shareholder of the corporation.
A majority of the Committee felt that although there is no proscription in the Canons against your husband's business involvement with his friend, given your concerns you may wish to take steps to avoid possible professional embarrassment.
The Committee would suggest that you and your husband may wish to consult a business attorney who may make recommendations as to appropriate business alternatives so that you could be adequately protected form having to engage in business transactions with your husband's business partner: e.g., a voting trust where you could appoint a third person to handle the affairs or other alternatives.
Additionally, since your inquiry does not mention the allocation of stock if anything should happen to your husband, two members felt that the Committee would be unable to comment on you possible corporate influence because of stock percentages held. One member felt that the Committee should not respond since your inquiry requests an advisory opinion on a contingency which may never occur.
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 judges, but the Judicial Qualifications Commission is not bound by the interpretive opinions by the Committee. Petition of the Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges, 327 So.2d 5 (Fla. 1976).
Very truly yours,
Steve Rushing, Chairman
Committee on Standards of Conduct
CC: All Committee Members
Office of the State Courts Administrator
(Name of judge deleted from this copy)
Participating Members: Judges Dell, Doughtie,Farina, Green, Kahn, Patterson, Rushing, Taylor, Tolton and Edwards, Esq.