December 27, 1995
PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL
Letter in support of
Judge's High School
In re: Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
Your Inquiry Dated November 6, 1995
You inquire whether you may write a positive letter about your education at a local high school. You have been contacted by two students from the school. You state that you have positive feelings about the school and would like to support the students. The students state, in part:
Your comments will be printed on a professionally printed display that will be featured in various businesses such as real estate offices, especially where potential customers can be made aware of the fact that they need not fear purchasing homes in the [school] district where their children will be assigned to go to school.
Because the school plans to use your letter in the manner described, all eight responding members agree that this activity would be prohibited under Canon 2 as it lending the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of the school. Two members concurred with a third member, who stated:
Under this proposal, his name and judicial prestige would be used to promote business concerns in the neighborhood of [the] High School. This is impermissible. I do not agree, however, that a letter of support from the judge concerning his alma mater would, in and of itself, be impermissible. I am not convinced that a public high school is the type of "private interest" that Canon 2 steers the judge, and his prestige, away from. Because in this instance, [the judge's] comments will be used in a commercial context, they are not permitted.
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 Dell, Doughtie, Green, C. Kahn, L. Kahn, Rushing and Tolton