March 30, 1995
PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL
(Disclosing Domestic Temporary
(Restraining Order Family Division
In re: Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
Your Inquiry Dated January 26, 1995
You inquire whether the examples of hearings on "probable cause or a temporary restraining order" in the commentary to Canon 3E(1) would also exend to judges sitting in family divisions disclosing the entering of temporary injunctions against domestic violence in cases they preside over or a criminal judge disclosing the execution of a search warrant.
Initially, it shold be noted that, as one member stated, "...the signature of the judges on the warrant or injunction discloses his involvement as a matter of record. From that point forward, it should be left to the interested parties to seek disqualification."
Since most temporary injunctions and search warrants are of a routine nature, a relatively few number of instances would reach the requirement of Canon 3E(1) that "A judge shall disqualify himself or herself in a proceeding in which the judge's impartiality might reasonably be questioned...". However, the Committee would find that if a motion is filed attacking the warrant or the temporary injunction, the judge should disclose the prior involvement on the record. It must be noted that pursuant to Opinion 93-56, "... if a judge discloses a possible conflict, then, upon motion, the judge should recuse regardless of the legal sufficiency of the motion."
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, and Silverman