November 16, 1982
This is in response to your inquiry of September 7, 1982. Your son has become associated with a law firm in the circuit. Your son is awaiting the outcome of the Bar exam and admission to the Bar. You recognize that you should not preside over cases handled by the firm. Your question relates to the propriety of your presiding over cases handled by the firm prior to your son being admitted to the Bar.
Of the six members of the Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges who responded, all were of the opinion you should not preside over cases handled by the law firm. This inquiry is controlled by our Opinions 78-20 and 79-7, copies of which are enclosed for your convenience.
In Opinion 78-20 the judge's husband was associated with a law firm. We originally decided there was no impropriety in her sitting on cases handled by the law firm. In Opinion 79-7 we receded from that Opinion. There is no substantive difference between a partner of the firm, an associate of the firm, or one who is employed by the firm. The Committee has issued a series of Opinions finding no impropriety where a judge's son/daughter has a casual employment with the Clerk of Court, the State Attorney, or the Public Defender. Those cases dealt with mere casual employment. In your case, we are dealing with a permanent connection with a law firm.
James T. Carlisle, Chairman
Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
cc: All Committee Members
Sid White, Clerk of the Supreme Court
Mr. Mark Hulsey, Chairman, Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission
Linda H. Yates, Managing Editor, Florida Bar Journal
Hon. Howard T. Markey, Chairman, Ethics Advisory Panel of the Judicial Conference of the U.S.
All references to the inquiring judge deleted
Participating members: Booth, Carlisle, O'Connell, Letts, Nesbitt and Samuel Powers. Attorney