February 17, 1992
(Recusal - Law firm employing wife
RE: Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges - Your inquiry
dated January 13, 1992
You explain you are the chief judge of your circuit and ask, in the interests of judicial administration within your circuit, whether one of your judges should recuse himself in those cases involving the law firm for which his wife works.
The Committee, composed of ten members, all agreed our opinion 81-1 controls and the judge should disqualify himself in all cases involving this law firm. The committee feels the sense of favoritism obviously entering into and coloring all the judge's activities offers no alternative but disqualification.
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, Levy, 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