Opinion 77-5

February 16, 1977

Re: Canon 2B

Dear Judge:


This is in response to your recent letter inquiring about the propriety of authoring a preface to a publication and the disposition of unexpended campaign funds.

You advise that a friend has asked you to contribute to the preface of a book which he has recently completed. The book, which is a history of _________ County, Florida, is being privately published and copies will be available for sale to the general public.

The Committee has reviewed your inquiry and the majority (8-1) is of the opinion that, based upon the facts and circumstances heretofore outlined particularly the fact that the book is being published as a commercial endeavor for profit, it would be a violation of Canon 2B, Code of Judicial Conduct, for you to write a preface using your title as circuit judge. Specifically, Canon 2B provides, in part, a judge "should not lend the prestige of his office to advance the private interests of others...". The Committee was of the view that your participation, as heretofore indicated, might be misunderstood as an official endorsement of the book and thereby conflict with the spirit and letter of Canon 2B. The Committee, however, was unanimously of the opinion that there would not be a violation of the Canons if no mention was made of your official position in the preface.

With respect to the disposition of unexpended campaign funds, you advise that there exists an unexpended amount of $72.26 remaining in your campaign fund as a result of your September 1976 election to the judiciary. You inquire as to the proper disposition of such unexpended funds and the propriety of a donation of said funds to charity.

The Committee has reviewed your inquiry and is unanimously of the opinion that insofar as the application of the Code of Judicial Conduct is concerned you may dispose of such fund in any manner you desire so long as such disposition is consistent with Canon 7B(2), which reads:

"(2) A candidate, including an incumbent judge, for a judicial office that is filled by public election between competing candidates should not himself solicit campaign funds, or solicit attorneys for publicly stated support, but he may establish committees of responsible persons to secure and manage the expenditure of funds for his campaign and to obtain public statements of support for his candidacy. Such committees are not prohibited from soliciting campaign contributions and public support form any person or corporation authorized by law. A candidate's committees may solicit funds for his campaign only with the time limitation provided by law. A candidate should not use of permit the use of campaign contributions for the private benefit of himself or members of his family."

A charitable donation or retention for a future campaign would not violate the above-quoted canon. In the event a charitable donation is made, one member pointed out that claiming a charitable deduction on your personal income tax might conflict with Canon 7B(2)

We appreciate your inquiry and trust the foregoing will be of assistance to you.

Sincerely,

Gerald Mager

Chairman, Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges

GM/cs

Participating members: Boyer, Carlisle, Haverfield, Hewitt, Murphee, O'Connell, Sample and Stephenson