Opinion 77-13

May 17, 1977

Re: Canon 4C

Dear Judge:

This is in response to your recent inquiry asking whether membership on the Board of Directors of __________ Rehabilitation Center, Inc., of Florida is permissible under the Judicial Canons, specifically Canon 4C. Although you have given us little information regarding the corporation, viz: Whether it is a non-profit corporation or a corporation for profit or the anticipated duties of the Board of Directors, you indicate that the corporation operates under a contract with the Federal Bureau of Prisons and is engaged in operation of a residential center for the rehabilitation of federal offenders. A copy of the portion of the contract attached to your inquiry shows that a certain sum of money will be paid to the corporation per day per person housed in the corporation's facility and that the corporation will provide.

"Safekeeping, care and subsistence of persons held under authority of any United States statute, including the detention of persons who are non-residents or non citizens of the United States..."

That the contract is intended to be beneficial to the corporation is reflected by the provision "No Member of or Delegate to Congress, or Resident Commissioner, shall be admitted to any share or part of this contract or to any benefit that may arise therefrom unless it be made with a corporation for its general benefit." The letter inviting membership on the Board of Directors reflects that the corporation is seeking a board member "that is knowledgeable of the judicial system".

Canon 4C provides that a judge may serve as a member, officer or director of an organization or governmental agency devoted to improvement of the law, the legal system of the administration of justice. The commentary following the canon appears to emphasize the "improvement of the law".

Six members of this committee are of the opinion that Canon 4C proscribes your participation as a member of the Board of Directors of __________ Rehabilitation Center, Inc., of Florida. This decision was predicated upon earlier opinions of this committee construing Canon 5B.

By Opinion 73-1, this committee advised a judge that his services as a member of the Board of Directors of the Guidance Clinic of the __________ would be inconsistent with canon 5B(1) "because the Guidance Clinic would be involved in court proceedings which very likely could be of an adversary nature". By Opinion 74-12 it was determined that the same canon prohibited a judge from serving as a member of the Board of Directors of ta Guidance Clinic stating "that while the 'clinic' is not a named party in the hearings [Baker Act proceedings] it could be a real party in interest via policies and other matters." We again held, by Opinion 74-16, that Canon 5B(1) proscribes services by a judge as an officer or director of the __________ county Mental Health Center, Inc. Membership on the Board of Directors of a Legal Aid Society was held by our Opinion 74-17 to offend the provisions of Canon 2 and 5B notwithstanding the provisions of Canon 4. Again by Opinion 75-2, the committee held that presidency by a judge of a Florida State Mental Health Board, Inc., and activities with _____________ Community Mental Health Center, Inc. tend to conflict with Canon 5B(1). To the same effect was the committee's Opinion 75-5. By Opinion 75-32, the committee unanimously determined that the Canons prohibited acceptance of an appointment as a member of the Statewide Human Rights Advocacy Committee. The committee again held by Opinion 76-21, that chairmanship of the District Human Right Advocacy Committee created under Florida Statute 20.19(7) is proscribed by Canon 5B(1) and 5G. Finally, by Opinion 76-25, the committee unanimously held that Canon 5B prohibits a judge from serving as a member of a County Ombudsman Committee.

One of the members of the committee who feels that your proposed membership on the Board of Directors is proscribed by the canons further feel that the information provided this committee was lacking in sufficient detail to allow the committee to approve your membership on the Board of Directors.

One member of the committee is of the opinion that the Canons do not proscribe your membership on the Board of Directors and that member suggests the desirability of more trial judges becoming engaged in the rehabilitative aspects of the criminal justice system.

One member of the committee suggests that the opinions of this committee concerning the propriety of a judge becoming involved in an organization devoted to improvement of the law, the legal system or the administration of justice turns on the likelihood of the organization becoming involved in litigation. It is noted that non-profit halfway house are generally only involved in zoning disputes, and then on an infrequent basis. That member is of the opinion that the committee does not have sufficient information on the _______________ Rehabilitation Center with which to make an informed decision as tho whether a judge's participation on the Board of Directors is proscribed by the Canons or not.

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

Sincerely yours,

Tyrie A. Boyer, Chairman
Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges


Participating members: Judges Boyer, Carlisle, Hewitt, Marger, Murphee, O'Connell, Sample,
Stephenson and Samuel J. Powers, Attorney