Receded from in Opinion 98-11
August 22, 1985
Opinion No. 85/12
You state that you have been indicted by a federal grand jury and you inquire as to whether you can accept funding gifts for your defense. Several friends have volunteered to donate money towards your expenses. You have not been suspended from your official position. You acknowledge that you will keep a detailed accounting of any such contribution and will properly report donations of more than $100.00 on your next financial disclosure statement.
The reporting members of the Committee unanimously agree that you may accept contributions towards your defense costs under the circumstances mentioned by you. A majority feel you should not accept funds from attorneys.
Canon 7(DR7-110)(a), Code of Professional Responsibility, is styled "Contact with Officials," and provides: "(a) A lawyer shall not give or lend anything of value to a judge, official, or employee of a tribunal." Canon 5C(4)c Code of Judicial Conduct, provides that "a judge may accept any other gift, bequest, favor or loan only if the donor is not a party or other person whose interests have recently come or may likely come before him in the immediate future. If its value exceeds $100.00, the judge reports it in the manner prescribed in Canon 6."
You may wish to review Opinion No.75/9 (April 9, 1975), which is consistent with the instant opinion. You may also wish to review Opinion No. 77/8, which is also consistent with the instant opinion, except that the matter of contributions from attorneys was not commented upon. You may also wish to review Opinion Nos. 81/10, 80/7, 78/11, and 76/15, having to do with campaign contributions. Two members comment that the collection of defense funds should be unsolicited.
Thank you for your inquiry.
Yours very truly,
Oliver L. Green, Jr.
Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
cc: All Committee Members
Participating members: Judges Booth, Blanchard, Dell, Goldstein,
Green, Grube, Letts, Tedder 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