FLORIDA SUPREME COURT

Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee

Opinion Number: 2002-181
Date of Issue: August 12, 2002

ISSUES

May a judicial candidate, who is not a judge, participate in a fund-raising function for a non-profit organization?

ANSWER: Yes.

FACTS

A candidate for judge committed to participate as a dancer in a fund-raising event for a civic non-profit organization prior to becoming a candidate. The event has been advertised in the local media, and the candidate has been identified in the publicity as an attorney. The candidate is not currently a judge.

DISCUSSION

A judge shall not use the prestige of judicial office for fund-raising for a non-profit civic or charitable organization. Canon 5(C), Code of Judicial Conduct. This committee has previously found such fund-raising activities by a judge to be inappropriate. Fla. JEAC Op. 88-31 (model in fashion show at legal aid fund-raiser). Fla. JEAC Op. 88-5 (exhibition basketball game with Miami Dolphins to raise scholarship money). Fla. JEAC Op. 86-5 (one of four guest speakers at a charity fund-raising honorarium).

The Application Section of the Code of Judicial Conduct applies the Code to justices of the Supreme Court and judges of the District Courts of Appeal, Circuit Courts, and County Courts. Judicial candidates, on the other hand, are only subject to the requirements of Canon 7. Therefore, until the candidate is elected, the candidate is not bound by Canon 5(C) of the Code of Judicial Conduct.

REFERENCES

Florida Code of Judicial Conduct, Canons 5 and 7.

Fla. JEAC Op. 88-31, 88-5, and 86-5.

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The Judicial Ethics Advisory 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 by the Committee. Petition of the Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges, 698 So.2d 834 (Fla. 1997). However, in reviewing the recommendations of the Judicial Qualification Commission for discipline, the Florida Supreme Court will consider conduct in accordance with a Committee opinion as evidence of good faith. Id.


For further information, contact Judge Jeffrey D. Swartz, Chairman, Judicial Advisory Committee, Miami Beach District Courthouse, 1130 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, Florida 33139.

Participating Members:
Judges Swartz, Kotey, and Townsend.


Copies furnished to:
Justice Peggy Quince
All Committee Members
All Members of the J.Q.C.
Office of the State Courts Administrator
(Name of inquiring judge deleted from this copy)

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1. The Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee has appointed an Election Practices Subcommittee. The purpose of this subcommittee is to give immediate responses to campaign questions in instances where the normal Committee procedure would not provide a response in time to be useful to the inquiring candidate or judge. Opinions designated with the "(Election)" notation are opinions of the Election Practices Subcommittee of the Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee, and have the same authority as an opinion of the whole Committee.