June 9, 1976
Re: Canon 7
This is in response to your recent letter requesting an opinion regarding the applicability of the "resign to run" provisions to a Municipal Judge who seeks election to a legislative office.
The nature of your inquiry was such as to necessitate a determination of whether the matter was properly within this Committee's jurisdiction. Upon due consideration a majority of the Committee was of the opinion that the inquiry is within its jurisdiction and more specifically within the terms and provisions of Canon 7(3), Code of Judicial Conduct.
The introductory paragraph to the section entitled "Compliance with the Coded of Judicial Conduct" states:
"Anyone, whether or not a lawyer, who is an officer of a judicial system performing judicial functions, including an officer such as a referee in bankruptcy, special master, court commissioner, or magistrate, is a judge for the purpose of this Code. All judges should comply with this Code except as provided below."
The section contains several exceptions applicable to a "part-time judge, judge pro tem, and retired judge"which exceptions deal primarily with the extrajudicial activities of and financial reporting by those aforementioned classes of judges (Canons 5 and 6). Canon 7, relating to the political activities of judges, is not listed as one of the exceptions that need not be complied with by the aforementioned category of judges.
Canon 7A(3) specifically provides as follows:
"A judge should resign his office when he becomes a candidate either in a party primary or in a general election for a nonjudicial office, except that he may continue to hold judicial office while being a candidate for election to or serving as a delegate in a state constitutional convention, if he is otherwise permitted by law to do so."
Therefore it is the opinion of the Committee that a municipal judge "is a judge for the purposes of this Code" and "should resign his office when he becomes a candidate...for nonjudicial office."
With respect to the specific time when and the manner i which such resignation should be rendered and the effective date thereof, your attention is invited to section 99.012(2) and (3), F.S., which relate to such matters including the effective date of any resignation. The Committee has not endeavored to construe the provisions of this statute and the comments herein relate solely to a construction of the provisions of the Code of Judicial Conduct applicable to your inquiry. Should you have any further question regarding the Election Code, you should feel free to seek further advise from the Attorney General.
We appreciate your interest and trust the foregoing will be of assistance to you.
Chairman, Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
Participating members: Boyer, Hanlon, Hewitt, Kaney, Mason, Murphee, Stephenson and Thomas MacDonald, Esquire