March 12, 1996

Opinion 96-3

Judge at honorary fundraising event
Canon 5

Re: Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
Your inquiry dated January 17, 1996

You are a former Nation Football League player, having been a member of the Miami Dolphins from 1973 to 1985. You will be inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in Israel during the Macabbee Games in 1997. A local Jewish Community Center has requested that you appear, gratis, at a J.C.C. Dinner to accept recognition for the Hall of Fame. The J.C.C. Will charge for attendance at this dinner, and use the funds to subsidize children's visits to Israel. Your title as judge will not be used as a draw; you will only be advertised as "Edward Newman."

The commentary to Canon 5C(3)(b) states unequivocally that a judge must not be a speaker or guest of honor at an organization's fundraising event. While your status as judge will not be advertised, the simple fact remains that you are now a judge and subject to the Code. Removing the title from the name does not remove the duties of the position from the person.

Eight of the ten responding committee members believe that you should not attend if you are to be the recognized guest of honor for this fundraising event, even if your status as judge goes unmentioned, two members felt that you should be able to attend the event. One member's dissent read in part:

I believe we have to take the inquiring judge at his word, and the clear import of the information he has provided us is that the prestige of judicial office will not be used for fundraising; rather, the prestige of a former Miami Dolphins All-Pro football player will be used. If the supreme court in framing Canon 5 had intended to prohibit any judicial appearance at a fundraising activity, the court would have said so.

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 judge, but the Judicial Qualifications Commission is not bound by the interpretive opinions issued by the committee. Petition of the Committee on Standards of Conduct for Judges, 327 So.2d 5 (Fla.1976).

Oliver L. Green, Jr.
Chairman, Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges

cc: All Committee Members
Office of the State Courts Administrator
(name of judge deleted from this copy)

Participating Members: Judges Cardonne, Doughtie, Green, C. Kahn, L. Kahn, Patterson, Rushing, Silverman, Tolton and Attorney Novicki