August 29, 1995
PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL
Former client appearing before Judge
using a different name
In re: Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
Your Inquiry Dated June 12, 1995
You ask whether you can divulge knowledge that a defendant appearing before you is using a different name than when you represented him as his attorney. The eight responding members of the Committee unanimously believe that you can disclose this information without violating the Code. However, you should then disqualify yourself. The responding members do not believe the name identification comes with the attorney-client privilege, particularly if the name was not conveyed under confidential circumstances. Further, there is nothing inherently wrong about a person using a different name even if he or she fails to comply with the change of name statute. In re Adoption of Lang, 56 So. 2d 450 (Fla. 1952), Isom v. Circuit Court of the Tenth Judicial Circuit, 437 So. 2D 732 (Fla. 2d DCA 1983).
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,
Oliver L. Green, Jr., 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 Cardonne, Doughtie, Green, Kahn, Patterson, Rushing Silverman and Tolton