SUBJECT: Mediation certification for Special Masters

The inquirer is a general master who has taken the courses necessary to become certified as a family law mediator but has yet to engage in the two co-mediations required by rule for certification. Having review Committee opinions 96-7 and 97-5, the inquiring general master asks whether he may conduct these co-mediations. This question has been answered by the opinion of the Florida Supreme Court in In re Code of Judicial Conduct 5F, ____Fla. L. Weekly S____ (Fla. June 12, 1997). In the referenced opinion, the Supreme Court amended Canon 5F to provide that judges may now, subject to certain provisos, conduct actual arbitration or mediation proceedings as part of a certification process. This opinion effectively overrules the Committee's prior opinions in 96-7 and 97-5. The Committee sees no reason not to apply the new provision to a general master, thereby allowing him to complete the certification process.

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).

Dated the 1st day of July, 1997.

Charles J. Kahn, Jr.
Chairman, Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges

Participation Members: Judges Cardonne,Dell, Green, C. Kahn, L. Kahn, Patterson, Rushing, Silverman, Smith, Tolton and Attorney Novicki

cc: All Committee Members
Justice Charles T. Wells
Office of the State Courts Administrator
(name of judge deleted from this copy)