August 13, 1986
Opinion No. 86/13
Canon 5B(1) (2)
Service on a board of directors of a non-profit corporation
Your inquiry of July 8, 1986, asks the Committee for its opinion concerning the propriety of your service as a member of the board of directors of The Haven, Inc. We understand from your letter that The Haven is a non-profit organization that will provide shelter and board for abused and abandoned children under the age of six years in Florida. The Haven is sponsored by the Junior League and it is anticipated that funding will be received from HRS. We understand that the by-laws have not yet been adopted and that you have explained to the principals that your name cannot be used in connection with the solicitation of funds.
We direct your attention to Canon 5B(1) and (2) of the code of Judicial Conduct. Generally speaking a judge may participate in civic and charitable activities that do not reflect adversely upon his impartiality or interfere with the performance of his judicial duties. Canon 5B(1) provides a caveat that a judge should not serve if it is likely that the organization will be engaged in proceedings that would ordinarily come before him or will be regularly engaged in adversary proceedings in any court. You point out in your letter that it is anticipated that funds will be received from HRS. You have stated that the purposed of the home is to provide shelter and board for abused and abandoned children under the age of six years. Therefore you must answer the question whether placement of such children would occur pursuant to a court order initiated by HRS or other proper persons. Since you are a circuit court judge and there is a likelihood that such proceedings might come before you, the Committee believes that Canon 5B(1) would under such circumstances proscribe your services as a director of The Haven, Inc. See Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges, Opinions 73-1, 74-16, 74-17, 75-2, 75-32, 76-21, 76-25, and 77-13.
On the other hand, if there is no likelihood that the organization will be engaged in proceedings that would ordinarily come before you or will be regularly engaged in adversary proceedings in any court, then services as a director would not appear to be prohibited by Canon 5. See Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges Opinions 73-4, 73-6, 74-14, 74-16, 74-41 (sic), 75-27, 77-6, 79-1, 80-2, 82-16, 85-4, and 85-5.
Since we cannot tell from your letter what involvement if any the court system would have with The Haven, Inc., we cannot furnish you with a definitive answer to your question. However, we believe that the information which we have furnished and the opinions cited above should furnish an adequate basis for you to make the decision whether you can serve as a member of the board of directors of The Haven, Inc. Should you wish to supplement your inquiry with additional information after the by-laws have been adopted, we would be happy to furnish you with an opinion based on that information.
This opinion is based upon the information which you have furnished. The 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 issued by the committee. Petition of the Committee on Standards of Conduct for Judges 327 So2d 5 (Fla. 1976).
We appreciate your inquiry and trust that the foregoing information will be of some assistance to you.
Very truly yours,
John W. Dell
cc: All Committee Members
Participating members: Judges Blanchard, Booth, Dell, Frank, Goldstein,
Green, Grube Tedder, Turner 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