Receded from in Opinion 97-27

March 26, 1992

(OPINION NO: 92-15
(Gifts
(Canon 5(C)(4) and Canon 2

RE: committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges - Your inquiry dated January 27, 1992

You have asked whether canon 5(C)(4) prohibits a Judge from accepting free membership in a golf course from the individual who developed the golf course. You have stated that you will properly report the gift and recuse yourself from any case involving the gift donor. Further, you are the only Judge in the Circuit to whom this gift membership has been offered.

Six committee members recommended that you do not accept the gift. They do not believe that acceptance of the gift would promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary (Canon 2). The basic rule of Canon 5(C)(4) is no gifts.

Two members of the committee are of the opinion that Canon 5(C)(4)(c) permits an exception to the general rule provided:

(1) the acceptance of the gift would not cast reasonable doubt on your capacity to act impartially and you recuse yourself from every case involving the donor, the donor's family and any case involving any business organization or partnership in which the donor or his family had a significant interest.

(2) acceptance would not cause an unreasonable number of recusals

The minority members agree with Committee Opinion 83-5 which distinguishes a gift offered only to one judge versus a gift offered to several public officials.

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

JT/mc

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