October 23, 1995
PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL
Service on Board of County
Commission on Alcoholism
In re: Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
Your Inquiry Dated August 23, 1995
You inquire whether you may continue to serve as a non-compensated member of the Board of the Broward County Committee on Alcoholism ("BCCOA") now that you have been appointed to the county court. The board oversees the drug and alcohol abuse program in Broward County, including a DUI school. The Board members make policy for the substance abuse programs. Specifically, you ask whether your continued service is prohibited because you sentence defendants in DUI cases to this DUI school, among other non-BCCOA programs.
Canon 4 provides that a judge may engage in activities to improve the law, the legal system and the administration of justice. Specifically, Canon 4D provides "[a] judge may serve as a member, officer, director, trustee or non-legal advisor of an organization or governmental agency devoted to the improvement of the law, the legal system or the administration of justice..."
In minutes dated May 21, 1986 the Florida Supreme Court rejected Opinion 86-8 wherein the Committee held that a county judge's service on the Board of a DUI school was improper. In rejecting this Opinion, the Supreme Court stated such service was contemplated by Canon 4. Since then, the Committee has held that a judge may serve on the board of the local DUI countermeasure school, even though that judge sentences DUI offenders to participate in a substance abuse course as mandated by statute and the local DUI school is the only such available. See Opinion 93-23. Additionally, Opinions 88-24 and 88-30 both hold that a judge may serve as member of Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Planning Council. Therefore the eight responding members of the Committee agree that your continued service on the BCCOA board is permissible.
Having reached this conclusion, the responding members of the Committee would further direct you to the following language of Opinion 93-23:
However, five Committee members state that judicial ethics require personal decisions by a judge. You may decide that your personal service on the board of directors may create an appearance of impropriety or create a conflict with your particular judicial position. If you perceive a potential for conflict that makes you feel uncomfortable, you should not do it.
Finally one member of the Committee is concerned over how you (sic) membership may be construed by other DUI schools in your county. The member states:
My only concern is whether there are other eligible DUI schools in [your] county. (In my county, we have two approved DUI schools. I do not designate which school defendants should attend, thereby, not giving preference to one school or the other especially since the schools are charging the defendants for their attendance.) Consequently, if [you are] ordering defendants to the DUI school sponsored by BCCOA, her membership on the Board might be construed by the other DUI schools in Broward County, if there are any, as a conflict.
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,
Oliver L. Green, Jr., 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, Green, L. Kahn, Patterson, Rushing, Silverman and Tolton