October 10, 1994
PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL
(Serve as President
(Elementary Parent-Teacher Association
Re: Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
Your Inquiry Dated August 24, 1994
You inquire whether you may serve as president of an elementary school parent-teacher association.
All nine members agree that you may serve, with the caveat that as president you should be sensitive not to allow the misuse of the prestige of your judicial office, and that you should abstain from any fund raising activities pursuant to Canon 5B(2). One member, although agreeing you could ethically serve, cautions that you should be aware that other members may tend to look at you as an authority figure and arbiter beyond another person serving in a similar leadership capacity.
Canon 5B permits a judge to participate in civic activities so long as they do not adversely reflect on his or her impartiality or interfere with the performance of judicial duties. Previous opinions approving comparable membership/leadership positions are as follows: 93-43 (Member of Board of Directors of the Family Day Care Home Association); 89-12 (President of a nonprofit corporation devoted to physical fitness); 89-18 (President of an Advisory Committee acting on behalf of a nonprofit organization dedicated to the placement of children with adopting families); and 85-5 (Board of Trustees of Progress 90, a nonprofit community group to help citizens set and achieve community-wide goals).
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, Green, Kahn, Patterson, Rushing, Silverman, Taylor, Tolton and Edwards, Esq.