April 26, 1995
PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL
(Serve on Implementation
(Administrative Judge in
(Domestic Violence Division
In re: Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
Your Inquiry Dated February 21, 1995
You inquire whether you may ethically serve as one of three judges on an implementation Committee for the Governor's Task Force on Domestic Violence while you are the Administrative Judge in your county's Domestic Violence Department.
In Opinion 94-33, this Committee indicated that service on the Governor's Task Force on Domestic Violence was ethically permissible with the understanding that the activities of the task force were "law related and gender neutral."
In Opinion 94-38, although the Committee found that under those particular circumstances the inquiring judge should not participate, the Committee noted the following:
Although there is no blanket prohibition on a judge serving on a Domestic
Violence Task Force, in light of the caveat in the comments to Canon 5B(1)(a)
that a judge must regularly re-examine the propriety of continued membership
in an organization, six members of the Committee believe that the reputation
and activism of the leadership or make-up of an organization concerning
racial, ethnic and gender issues and the resulting perceived impression
of the agenda of the organization within a community are valid and proper
factors for a judge to consider in evaluating membership. The current assignment
of a judge and the frequency of the appearance of the organization or its
membership in court are also factors which must be considered on a case
by case basis.
Therefore, under the circumstances of this inquiry and with the above-referenced caveats, all six responding members of the Committee would find no prohibition against you accepting the nomination to serve. One concurring member did note as follows:
It is apparent that Judge ____ is setting herself up for disqualification
motions. In my estimation a knowledgeable accused would be most unwise not
to test the matter of her disqualification. Bear in mind that Judge ____
is not limiting her work to judicial procedures for processing petitions.
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 Doughtie, Green, Kahn, Patterson, Rushing, Silverman