March 15, 1994
(Judge's need to recuse or not
(when hearing DNR type cases
(when wife is an employee of
(Department of Environmental
PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL
RE: Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
Your inquiry dated January 26, 1994
You have asked our Committee's advise concerning the following situation:
Your wife is a chemist employed by the Department of Environmental Regulation (sic). Her duties involve the analysis of ground and surface water samples for the identification and quantification of organic pollutants. As a county judge you hear some cases under the overall jurisdiction of the Department of Environmental Protection, such as cases involving vessel registration and undersized fish.
Our Committee, with two exceptions, agrees that you do not need to recuse or disclose your wife's employment unless you are assigned a case where your wife's work is specifically involved. If, for example, the State were to introduce a chemical laboratory report, you should at least disclose that your wife is a chemist for the State. Two members feel that it would be more appropriate if you would disclose your wife's employment with the State in any case involving the Department of Environmental Resources (sic). This is not because of any direct involvement that your wife have (sic) in the case, but simply because many people feel over regulated by that agency. The guidelines set forth in Opinion 93-41 still appear to be the proper considerations for you in these matters.
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 So.2d 5 (Fla.1976).
Yours very truly,
Nath C. Doughtie, Chairman
Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
cc: All Committee Members
Office of the Courts Administrator (name of judge deleted from this copy)
Participating members: Judges Doughtie, Farina , Goldstein, Green, Kahn, Patterson , Rushing, Taylor, Tolton.