February 1, 1995

PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL




(OPINION 95-3
(Tiger Bay Club Speaker
(Death Penalty History

Re: Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
Your Inquiry Dated November 9, 1994

 

You requested an opinion on whether or not you can present a speech on the history of the death penalty to a local Tiger Bay Club. The speech is historical, neither pro-death or anti-death penalty and has been previously given to the Volusia County Bar Association with CLE credits being awarded.

In responding to your inquiry, it should be noted that in Opinion 95-1 this Committee recently receded from Opinion 92-28 which found that a judge should not become a member of a Tiger Bay Club because it was a "political" organization and, thus, proscribed by Canon 7(A).

Since Opinion 95-1, found thatit is permissible for a judge to become a member of a Tiger Bay Club, seven members of the Committee agree that you may deliver your "neither pro-death nor anti-death penalty" speech to the Tiger Bay Club. The Committee would note that you must carefully monitor your comments and not to be placed in a partisan position. Although this Committee has found that it may be ethically permissible to attend, join and even to give an educational speech, a Tiger Bay Club regarding the "law, the legal system or the administration of justice", this Committee has specifically not addressed the question of greater degree of activity in such organizations.

One concurring member noted the following caveat: "In addition, there are some clubs that are loosely run and therefore may be viewed by the public in one manner in Pensacola but may be viewed completely differently in Tampa, Jackisonville or Miami. In that circumstance, it is possible that a judge in Pensacola should not belong while a judge in another city arguably could permissibly belong."

One of the two dissenting members stated, "...if the Tiger Bay Clubs have for their principal agenda the advancement of politics, then judges should stay away."

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
Governing Judges

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CC: All Committee Members
Office of the State Courts Administrator
(Name of judge deleted from this copy)

Participating Members: Judges Doughtie, Farina, Green, Kahn, Patterson, Rushing, Silverman, Taylor, Tolton, and Edwards, Esq.

Very truly yours,

Steve Rushing, Chairman
Committee on Standards of
Conduct Governing Judges

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