September 1, 1993
Personal and Confidential
Recusal due to spouse's employment
Re: Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges - Your inquiry dated July 28, 1993
You have written concerning your situation as a circuit judge in a large metropolitan area serving in the juvenile division. You are concerned about a transfer into the dependency side of the court as your wife is employed by the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services as the managing attorney for dependency. Your wife's duties are almost completely administrative, but several attorneys that appear in the dependency court fall under your wife's chain of command. She has no caseload and only appears in court occasionally. You question your need to recuse if you file a Notice of Offer to Recuse in every case. Eight members of our committee are of the opinion that it would be improper for you to undertake this assignment. Even though it might be technically possible to obtain a waiver in each case, the Committee feel that this would be impractical and that a judge should not undertake an assignment such as you have suggested where it is necessary to file an offer of recusal in every single case. In the Committee's prior opinion 90-23, we reached a similar conclusion.
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).
Very truly yours,
Nath C. Doughtie, 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, Farina (Abstained) , Goldstein, Green, Kahn, Patterson, Taylor, Tolton and Edwards, Esq.