August 22, 1985
Opinion No. 85/11
Canons 2B, 3, 5A, 5B(1), 5B(2), 5C
You asked for reconsideration of an inquiry which resulted in Opinion No. 85/4. Your questions are: (1) May I serve as President of B'nai B'rith, District 5? (2) May I serve as National Commissioner of B'nai B'rith Youth? (3) May I appear at fund raising functions and speak in my official organizational capacity providing I do not solicit funds?
A majority of the five reporting committee members believe that Question 1 and 3 should be answered in the negative, based on our prior Opinion No. 85/4. One member would answer Question 1 in the affirmative, with the understanding that you not allow any such activities to encroach upon your judicial obligations and that you avoid participation in fund raising activities.
Question 2 is being answered in the affirmative based upon your analogy that a National Commissioner is "akin to an Optimist Baseball Coach." You assure us that the National Commissioner is not responsible for fund raising. You also state, as a Youth Commissioner, you will help set policy and work with teenagers of high school age. The overall responsibility for raising money for these programs is in the hands of professionals who work under the auspice of B'nai B'rith Foundation of the United States.
Two reporting committee members caution you to be ever mindful of the Canons, particularly with respect to a potential problem not mentioned in your inquiry, i.e. possible political implications of your activities. Reference is made to the manual, "This is B'nai B'rith" supplied by you for review by the committee. Fairly typical of quotes contained in the manual are as follows:
(Page 8) "As early as 1851, B'nai B'rith became conscious of its responsibility as a representative voice of the Jewish people." (Page 14) "It (leading Jewish organizations) requested the State Department to use its good offices to bring about change in the policies of the Palestine administration on the admission of Jewish refugees." (Page 24) "in the record sale of $13 million in Israel Bonds by individual B'nai B'rith lodges and chapters"
One committee member believes that you, as a National Officer, will find it difficult to avoid conflicts with the Canons of Judicial Conduct. In any event, we recede from our Opinion No. 85/4, insofar as that opinion conflicts with the instant opinion, concerning Question 2. We summarize by cautioning you to be ever vigilant so that your obligations as a National Officer in B'nai B'rith do not conflict with your responsibilities as a judicial public official.
Thank you for your inquiry.
Yours very truly,
Oliver L. Green, Jr., Chairman
Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
cc: All Committee Members
Participating members: Judges Booth, Blanchard, Goldstein, Green, Grube, Letts and Attorney M. Craig Massey
All reference to the inquiring judge is deleted from the copies sent to the following individuals.
Mr. Sid White, Clerk of the Supreme Court of Florida
Linda Yates, Managing Editor, The Florida Bar Journal
Kathleen T. Phillips, Esq., Chairman, Judicial Qualifications Commission.
Hon. Howard T. Markey, Chairman, Ethics Advisory Panel of the Judicial Conference of the United States .
Jeffrey M. Shaman, Esquire, Director, Center for Judicial Conduct Organizations
Ms. Jean Underhill, Librarian, Broward County Law Library
Mr. Robert Wallace, Librarian, Dade County Law Library
Mr. Brian Polley, Librarian, Supreme Court of Florida