March 24, 1992
(OPINION NO: 92-12
(Canons 4 (B) and 5(B)(2) and
(Fund raising and conflict of interest
RE: Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges - Your inquiry dated February 11, 1992
You inquire whether a judge acting as a member of an advisory committee established by the county council can appeal to that body for funds. The money would then be allocated by the advisory committee to specific community organizations. You also inquire whether a judge can participate in meetings of the advisory committee to review requests for program proposals and recommend and evaluate funding for community organizations and programs whose representatives regularly appear before the Court.
A majority of the committee members answered both questions in the negative. Those members indicate an appeal for funds to the County Council constitutes personal participation in fund raising prohibited by Canons 4 (C) and 5 (B)(2). Reviewing funding proposals by groups or programs whose representatives appear before the judge represents a conflict of interest, the majority responded. You may also wish to see our opinion 92-11. One member disagreeing with the majority of committee members equated your circumstance to numerous incidents wherein judges often request funds from County Commissions and the Legislature.
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, 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