September 7, 1995
PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL
Campaign activity - Active opposition and One-year rule
In re: Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
Your Inquiry Dated June 2, 1995
An attorney has made it known that he will see that you have opposition in 1996. You inquire (1) whether you can certify that you have active opposition so that you may conduct more than limited campaign activity and (2) whether, despite the federal injunction enjoining enforcement of the one year rule, you are expected to nonetheless comply with the spirit of the rule.
Your first question is premised on the pre-1995 version of the Code of Judicial Conduct. In that version of the Code, Canon 7B(3) allowed a judge to conduct only limited campaign activities until he or she certifies that he or she has drawn active opposition. However, under the current version of the Code, only judges subject to merit retention are subject to the limited campaign activities rules. See Canon 7C(2). Under Canon 7C(1) o such restrictions are placed on judicial positions filled by general election. As you are a circuit judge, the seven responding members of the Committee unanimously find that you would fall under the provisions of 7C(1) and, thus, not subject to the limited campaign activity rule.
We find that your second question is moot as the Florida Supreme Court has deleted the one-year rule from Canon 7C(1), See, In re: Code of Judicial Conduct, 20 Fla. L. Weekly s443 (Fla. August 24, 1995).
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 Doughtie, Green, Kahn, Patterson, Rushing Silverman and Tolton