December 22, 1987
This is in response to your inquiry dated August 19, 1987, addressed to the Judicial Qualifications Commission. You ask:
1) Whether a Judge may publicly endorse or allow the use of your public endorsement by a candidate for appointment to public office?
2) May a Judge reveal his personal opinion or endorsement of a candidate for appointment to public office upon the request of the Governor's representative?
It is my understanding that this question relates to a request of the Governor's office as to your personal opinion or endorsement of the candidates for a judicial vacancy.
You request the Committee's opinion as it relates to an interpretation of Canon 7A(1) of the Code of Judicial Conduct.
Nine of ten members of the Committee responded to your letter.
As to question (1) -- the committee response was unanimous, that this activity is proscribed by Canon 7A.
As to question (2) -- the Committee response was that this is permitted provided that the response is of a factual, even handed nature.
A copy of Committee Opinion 86/2 is attached for your further consideration.
We have based our opinion on the information furnished in your letter. 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,
George W. Tedder, Jr.
cc: All Committee Members
Participating members: Judges Frank, Blanchard, Booth, Dell, Goldstein, Green, Shutter and Tedder, and F. Shields McManus, Esquire
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
Brooke S. Kennerly, Executive Director, 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