Receded from in Opinion 2003-10
February 12, 1993
Canons 5C(4)(c) and 6B2 and Form 6A
Gift reports - Golf Fee
You have inquired whether or not there is a gift reporting requirement when a judge is invited as a guest to play golf on one or more occasions at a private club where a single guest fee is less than $100, but multiple fees may exceed that amount.
Further you ask when the person who invites the judge is a guest of the club and is not charged by the club for himself or any other guests invited does this eliminate the need for reporting the gift. Also, if you must report the above as a gift, you ask whether the reported donor is the golf club or the person who invited the judge.
Canon 5C(4)(c) states:
a judge may accept any other gift, bequest favor...and if its value exceeds $100, the judge reports it in the manner prescribed in Canon 6.
Canon 6B2 prescribes the public report of all gifts. The Florida Supreme Court In re Code of Judicial Conduct, 281 So.2d 21 (1973), prescribed the use of Form 6A Gift Disclosure in lieu of that prescribed by Florida Statutes §112.3145(1)(c)(3).
Eight Committee members agree that each time you are invited to play golf and the fee is paid by your host, you have received a gift. When the total of these gifts add up to more than $100 during the course of a year, you must report the total on Form 6A.
Further, the majority of the Committee believes that if your receive a benefit (golf fees) from your host even if your host does not pay for the benefit, you have received a gift that must be reported if the cumulative value of the benefit exceeds $100 during the course of a year.
Eight Committee members agree the reporting requirement relates to the person hosting the judge and not to the club.
One member states that if a golf fee is not paid by anyone (the host and the judge), reporting is not required.
Several Committee members state it is best to avoid any reporting problem by paying your own golf fees and not making a habit of letting others pay your fees.
On the other hand, several Committee members believe that if a judge is a member of a regular foursome and the payment of golf fees is rotated among the foursome, the judge is not receiving a gift that needs to be reported.
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,
Harvey Goldstein, Chairman
Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
cc: All Committee Members
Participating members: Judges Tolton, Green, Booth, Levy, Dell, Doughtie, Goldstein, Rushing and Clarke, Esq.
Office of State Court Administrator, Legal Affairs &Education