May 1, 1995
PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL
(Opening Campaign Account
In re: Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
Your Inquiry Dated March 10, 1995
You raise a question concerning the application of Canon 7C(1) in that you inquire about the propriety of opening a campaign account, depositing your own money and appointing yourself as campaign treasurer prior to one year before the general election in November 1995, but without expending funds or establishing a committee to solicit contributions or public support. Your question is now moot since a Federal Judge recently issued a preliminary injunction enjoining the Judicial Qualifications Commission and The Florida Bar from enforcing the one-year limits of Canon 7(C)(1) in Ray Zeller, et al. Vs. The Florida Bar and the Judicial Qualifications Commission, Case No. TCA 95-40073-MMP.
Before the injunction was issued, a majority of the Commmittee opined that there is no prohibition against a judge or judicial candidate opening an account and depositing their own money into it, since they would not be expending money, establishing a committee or soliciting public support.
Finally, it should be noted that the wording of Canon 7 is horatory and is not a binding "shall" under which a judge may be disciplined.
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, and Silverman