May 5, 1988
PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL
Speaking at partisan political meeting
Canon 4 and 7
Re: Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
Your inquiry re Canons 4 and 7
The Committee's members apologize for the delay in responding to your inquiry. A number of factors have contributed to our tardiness. A portion of the delay was caused by my determination to recirculate your inquiry following receipt of the initial responses. I found the divergent views expressed by the members of the Committee of sufficient magnitude and substance to warrant additional consideration of your question.
You have asked the Committee whether Canon 7B would be offended if you were to appear at a partisan political meeting for the purpose of discussing the judicial system and the need for a new court building in the ______ Judicial Circuit.
A majority of the Committee's members has expressed the view that Canon 7 would be violated in appearing at a political function in spite of the fact that such appearance would not be for the advancement of a political objective and, indeed, may fulfill a purpose permitted under Canon 4. Thus, the Committee's consensus is that we adhere to Opinion 87-16, a copy of which is attached.
Two members of the Committee hold the view that Opinion 77/21, a copy of which is attached, should be followed and that Opinion 87/16 should not control the question you have presented. It has been suggested by two Committee members that the literal prohibition arising form Canon 7 should be tempered by a rule modification integrating the permissible areas of conduct contemplated in Canon 4.
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).
Richard H. Frank, Chairman
Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
cc: All Committee Members
Participating Members: Judges Booth, Dell, Frank, Goldstein, Green, Levy, Shutter, Tolton, Turner and Attorney Page
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