FLORIDA SUPREME COURT
COMMITTEE ON STANDARDS OF CONDUCT GOVERNING JUDGES
SUBJECT: Is it proper for judges invited free of charge along with
other community and business leaders to attend special
functions sponsored by area theme parks?
Canon 2 and 5
The inquiring judges collectively ask whether it is proper for judges invited free of charge along with other community leaders and business leaders to attend special functions sponsored by area theme parks. The inquiry represents that "often these theme parks are parties in litigation in our court, particularly in the civil division."
Although a case-by-case judgement (sic) is called for, the Committee cautiously advises that within the confines of Canon 2 and Canon 5, judges may attend these functions. Under Canon 2, any judge accepting free admission must not provide endorsement for the theme park not allow the prestige of judicial office to benefit the commercial interest of the theme park. Under Canon 5D(5)(h), a judge may not accept any gift if the donor is not a party or person who has come or is likely to come or whose interests have come or are likely to come before the judge. The Committee does not find a blanket prohibition, but would advise the inquiring judges to carefully consider any proffered free admission in light of Canon 5D(5)(h). Of note, two member of the Committee have dissented noting that, "theme parks are constantly involved in various types of litigation. There is a substantial likelihood that the interests of these entities will come before each of (the inquiring judges). Editors Note: the end quote in the forgoing two sentences is not indicated in the original.
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).
Dated the 21st day of January, 1997.
Charles J. Kahn, Jr.
Chairman, Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
Participation Members: Judges Cardonne, Dell, Green, C. Kahn, L. Kahn, Patterson, Rushing, Silverman, Smith, Tolton and Attorney Novicki
cc: All Committee Members
Office of the State Courts Administrator (name of judge deleted from this copy)