Opinion no. 91-28
December 19, 1991
RE: SOLICITING SUPPORT FOR JUDICIAL APPLICANTS
RE: Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges- Your
inquiry dated October 31, 1991.
You ask whether a sitting judge may actively solicit support and engage in other activities on behalf of an applicant to a vacant judicial position. This includes asking community leaders, lawyers and others to write letters of support and encouraging other lawyers to seek a vacant judicial position.
All nine members of the ten member committee that responded unanimously agreed the activity you describe is prohibited in that it either endorses a candidate for public office or undermines public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary, violative respectively of Canon 7 (A) (1) (b) and Canon 2 (A) . (See also our opinion 82-8) . However, several committee members asked that you be reminded that there is no prohibition in a judge communicating factually and succinctly with either a judicial nominating commission or the governor's office regarding an applicant---but no more.
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).
With regards, I remain,
Yours very truly,
Jere Tolton, Chairman
Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
cc: All Committee Members
Participating Members: Judges Tolton , Green , Booth , Dell , Doughtie, Goldstein, Farina, Rushing, and Clarke, Esq.
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
Judson Orrick, Managing Editor, The Florida Bar
Brooke S. Kennerly, Executive Director, Judicial Qualifications Commission.
Hon. Walter K. Stapleton, Chairman, Ethics Advisory panel of the Judicial Conference of the United states .
Cynthia Grey, Director, American Judicature Society
Ms. Jean Underhill, Librarian, Broward County Law Library
Mr. Robert Wallace, Librarian, Dade County Law Library
Ms. Joan D. Cannon, Librarian, supreme Court of Florida
William D. Wilkinson, Court Administrator, Lee County
Hon. . Thomas H . Barkdull , Jr ., Third District Court of Appeal
Lynda Glyman, Esq. Center for Professional Responsibility, American Bar Association
Hon. Charles McClure, Chief Judge, Second Judicial circuit
Office of state Court Administrator, Legal Affairs & Education