FLORIDA SUPREME COURT

Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee

Opinion Number: 2003-11
Date of Issue: July 17, 2003

JUDGE PARTICIPATING IN FLORIDA COUNCIL ON CRIME AND DELINQUENCY WITH ALL PARTICIPATING AGENCIES IN THE JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM.

ISSUES

Whether the two circuit court judges presiding over juvenile delinquency court may belong to criminal justice and delinquency council which is open to all practitioners and all other interested citizens who support the goals and objectives of the council?

ANSWER: Yes.

FACTS

The inquiring Judges sit in the Juvenile Division of the Circuit Court. They inquire as to the propriety of being members of the Florida Council on Crime and Delinquency (FCCD). The stated objectives of the FCCD include providing a mechanism for the interchange of information between the disciplines of the criminal justice system, to inform and educate the citizenry as to matters pertaining to the criminal justice system, to perform community service, to promote high standards of professional practice in the criminal system and to provide training programs for the criminal justice practitioners. Membership is open to all criminal justice practitioners and citizens interested in the council's objectives.

DISCUSSION

Canon 4D states in part that a judge may serve as a member, officer, director, trustee or nonlegal advisor of an organization or governmental agency devoted to the improvement of the law, the legal system or the administration of justice. Previous Committee opinions have found it proper for a judge to serve on advisory councils. The Committee has given approval for judges to serve on an alcohol, drug abuse and mental health district planning council (JEAC Opinions 88-24 and 88-30); on the board of directors of a DUI Countermeasure school (JEAC Opinion 93-23); in an advisory capacity on the regional juvenile detention center's community advisory board (JEAC Opinion 94-04); as a member of district juvenile justice board (JEAC Opinion 94-31); as a member of the Victims' Assistance Advisory Council (JEAC Opinion 98-26) and a member of an ad hoc task force created to assist and facilitate the implementation of recent legislation (JEAC Opinion 99-12).

In opinion 97-20 the Committee found a judge could serve on the County Justice Commission. The County Criminal Justice Commission was created by county ordinance. According to the ordinance, the Criminal Justice Commission was to study all aspects of the criminal justice and crime prevention system within the county.

Therefore it is the opinion of the Committee that the inquiring judges may be members of the FCCD in that the organization's goals are to improve the administration of justice pursuant to Canon 4D of the Code of Judicial Conduct.

REFERENCES

Florida Code of Judicial Conduct Canon 4D.

Fla. JEAC Op. 88-24
Fla. JEAC Op. 88-30
Fla. JEAC Op. 93-23
Fla. JEAC Op. 94-04
Fla. JEAC Op 94-31
Fla. JEAC Op. 97-20
Fla. JEAC Op. 98-26
Fla. JEAC Op. 99-12.

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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 Phyllis D. Kotey, Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee, Eighth Judicial Circuit, Alachua County Courthouse, 201 East University Avenue, Room 205, Gainesville, Florida 32601.

Participating Members:
Judge Jeffrey D. Swartz, Judge Phyllis Kotey, Judge Lisa Davidson, Judge Charles Kahn, Judge Emerson Thompson, Judge Richard Townsend, Judge Melanie May, Ervin Gonzalez, Esquire and Marjorie Gugarian Graham, Esquire.


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)