September 2, 1994
PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL
(Dedicate Pavilion in name of Judge
Re: Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
Your Inquiry Dated July 22, 1994
You have requested an opinion form our Committee concerning whether a criminal division circuit court judge may permit a not-for-profit corporation that provides drug and alcohol treatment to name its meeting and dining hall after you.
Ten members felt that allowing the proposed dedication of the "[Name of judge] Pavilion" may violate the prohibition of Canon 2 against lending "the prestige of the office to advance the private interests of others; nor should he convey or authorize others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence him." One member felt this dedication would be permissible since the hall would be dedicated to you individually and not as a "judge".
The Committee also feels that there may be a problem with the fact that you will have no control over the type of events for which the pavilion may be used in the future. For example, if the pavilion is used as a banquet hall for a fund raising event, the prestige of your name and your office could be unwittingly used to enhance the success of the affair in violation of Canon 5B(2) which prohibits permitting the use of the prestige of judicial office for fund raising. See Opinion 90-20 concerning a judge being the guest of honor at a fund raising dinner.)
Ten members of the Committee also felt that since the not-for-profit corporation in question provides both residential and nonresidential out-patient treatment for "...those who suffer from the disease of alcoholism and drug addiction..." and since yo currently sit in a criminal division, there is a likelihood that you and other criminal division judges may be in a position to sentence defendants to that not-for-profit corporation for treatment. Thus, at a minimum there would be the caveat that to avoid the appearance of partiality you should consider not referring defendants to that particular treatment program. Additionally, sitting as a criminal judge and having the pavilion named after you may violate Canon 5B(1) by becoming associated with an organization that "...will be engaged in proceedings that would ordinarily come before him or will be regularly engaged in adversary proceedings in any court.
One member suggests that you would not be precluded from making such referrals, so long as you make full disclosure to the appropriate parties. However, if such a disclosure is made, pursuant to Opinion 93-56, you must recuse yourself upon request after having made such disclosure. Placing yourself in such a position concerning recusals could violate the spirit of Canon 5 that "A judge should regulate his extrajudicial activities to minimize the risk of conflict with his judicial duties."
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 judges, but the Judicial Qualifications Commission is not bound by the interpretive opinions by the Committee. Petition of the Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges, 327 So.2d 5 (Fla. 1976).
Very truly yours,
Steve Rushing, Chairman
Committee on Standards of Conduct
CC: All Committee Members
Office of the State Courts Administrator
(Name of judge deleted from this copy)
Participating Members: Judges Dell, Doughtie, Farina, Green, Kahn, Patterson, Rushing, Silverman, Taylor, Tolton and Edwards, Esq.