July 13, 1993
(Canon 5G - Extrajudicial Appointment Service on Children's Advisory Board
(Canon 4C - Activity to Improve the Administration of Justice
Re: Committee on Standard of Conduct Governing Judges. Your inquiry dated May 7, 1993
You have asked about the propriety of a judge sitting on your county's Children Advisory Board which makes recommendations how tax generated revenues should be spent.
You state that the Children Advisory Board of _______ County is an independent body established by a county ordinance. The ordinance was adopted pursuant to a referendum which authorized an additional tax on the residents of the county for the purpose of raising revenue for funds to be spent on juvenile needs.
Further, the Children's Advisory Board consists of citizens from the community including a circuit judge. The primary function of the committee is to review applications for funding from county agencies which deal with children. Upon review of the applications, the Board votes and makes a recommendation to the County Commission as to how the funds generated should be allocated. A circuit judge sits on the Board and votes along with his/her fellow members recommending the disbursements. In the two years of the Board's existence, the Commission has ratified all of the funding recommendations.
Six of the eight participating committee members (Two members did not participate) agree that you are permitted under the Code to serve on your county's children's advisory board because it is sufficiently related to the improvement of the administration of justice.
However, you should not serve or recuse yourself from voting or participation if it is likely the children's board and/or the county agencies seeking funding will be engaged in proceedings that would ordinarily come before you or regularly engage in adversary proceedings in any court. Further, your participation must not reflect adversely upon your impartiality or interfere with the performance of your judicial duties.
Three members state the question is whether there is a conflict of interest or an apparent conflict of interest and they do not see one in the brief circumstances described in your inquiry.
Two committee members state that the commentary to Canon 4 means a judge can help develop, draft and review proposals for programs to treat or rehabilitate juvenile defendants [sic]. This is consistent with the Florida Supreme court's prior communication to this committee concerning judicial service on the board of directors of DUI countermeasure schools.
Two members state that if a conflict of interest becomes apparent, the judge should herself or himself from the board and allow the chief judge to find another judge to serve on the children's advisory board. They interpret your inquiry to mean that you find a conflict of interest or you find your service on the board not substantially related to the improvement of the administration of justice.
Further, three committee members cite committee opinion 92-11 where nine participating committee members opined that you should limit your activity on the board and refuse to vote when organizations seeking a funding recommendation are regularly involved in cases before you.
Two committee members state you can remain on the board provided you limit your activity to advice and counsel as a representative of the judiciary and refrain from voting on specific funding recommendations. Further, you should refrain from issues of fact or policy other than those related to the improvement of the administration of justice.
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).
Harvey Goldstein, Chairman
Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
cc: All Committee Members
Office of State Court Administrator (name of Judge deleted from this copy)
Participating members: Judges Doughtie ,Green, Farina, Goldstein, Kahn, Patterson, Tolton and Edwards, Esq.