October 10, 1994
PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL
(Testify as Character Witness
Re: Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
Your Inquiry Dated September 1, 1994
You inquire whether you may testify as a character witness for a physician before a medical disciplinary board in response to a subpoena.
All ten responding members of the Committee agree that you may testify pursuant to a properly executed subpoena. Although Canon 2 states that a judge "should not testify voluntarily as a character witness", the commentary to Canon 2 states, "This Canon however, does not afford him a privilege against testifying in response to an official summons." In Opinion 86-10, this Committee found that a judge could appear on behalf of a suspended Florida Bar member seeking reinstatement if in response "to a subpoena issure for the aformentioned purposes."
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 Doughtie, Farina, Green, Kahn, Patterson, Rushing, Silverman, Taylor, Tolton and Edwards, Esq.