August 17, 1977
Re: Political activities
The Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges responds to your recent inquiry to which you attached a copy of an opinion from the Florida Bar Committee on Professional Ethics (opinion 71-68), and a copy of a 1972 opinion from the predecessor of this committee (The Committee on Standards of Judicial Conduct).
As we interpret your query, you seek to know whether this Committee yet adheres to the recommendation of the Committee on Standards of Judicial Conduct relative to six specific points, viz:
1. That an incumbent judge should not attend a political party fund raising affair.
2. That an incumbent judge should not attend a testimonial for an announced political candidate.
3. That an incumbent judge should not attend a testimonial for another judicial officer seeking election. (DID NOT RECEIVE UNANIMOUS COMMITTEE APPROVAL)
4. That one who intends to seek a judicial position, but does not now presently hold one, should not attend any of the functions above outlined.
5. A judicial candidate seeking election or re-election may attend political forums or rallys where other candidates are in attendance.
6. The wife of a judicial candidate is bound by the same standards.
Commenting on each of the above, a majority of the Committee is of the view that:
1. An incumbent judges should not attend a political party fund raising affair unless the affair is one to which all candidates are afforded an opportunity to attend and speak and the incumbent judge is a candidate for re-election.
2. An incumbent judge should not attend a testimonial for an announced political candidate if the testimonial is for the purpose of raising funds for such candidate or is a purely political affair. A judge is not precluded from attending such an appreciation function or a testimonial function for any person whether an announced political candidate or not, if the testimonial or appreciation function is a bona fide appreciation or testimonial function and not sponsored by a political party.
3. As to whether an incumbent judge should attend a testimonial for another judicial officer seeking re-election, the Committee is of the same view expressed in the proceeding paragraph.
4. One who intends to seek a judicial position, but does not now presently hold one, is bound to the same conditions as a judicial officer.
5. A judicial candidate seeking election or re-election may attend political functions or rallys where other candidates are in attendance.
6. Because of the amendment to Canons 2B, 3C(2), 5C(4), 5C(5) and 7B(1)(a)
of the Code of Judicial Conduct and the commentary following Canon 7 adopted
by the Supreme Court on August 3, 1976, a judicial spouse is completely
free of any restrictions except that, as the commentary following Canon
7 indicates "Any political activity engaged in by members of a judge's
family should be conducted in the name of the individual family member,
entirely independent of the judge and without reference to the judge or
to his office."
The foregoing expresses the views of all of the participating members of the Committee except one, who would re-affirm all of the recommendations of our predecessor committee except as to numbered paragraph six, the applicability of which that member agrees has been changed by the subsequent amendments to the Canons.
Tyrie A. Boyer, Chairman
Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
Participating members: Judges Boyer, Carlisle, Haverfield, Hewitt, Marger, Murphee, O'Connell, Sample,Stephenson and Samuel J. Powers, Attorney