October 22, 1990
Opinion No. 90/23
Your inquiry relates that you will take office in January, 1991, as a circuit judge. Your spouse is District Program Administrator of the Department of Health & Rehabilitative Services, and, as such, responsible for all aspects of child support enforcement throughout the district which encompasses your circuit court. Your spouse supervises the entire departmental staff in the district, including private contract attorneys and those communicating between your spouse's office and the courts. Your spouse is the contract manager for an agreement under which the circuit courts are reimbursed for federal Title IV-D funding of judicial family hearing officers. Your spouse personally approves all monies being paid to the court under these agreements. Your spouse has direct control regarding compensation of the attorneys who appear in your circuit court, including the amount thereof. Compensation of attorneys is directly related to the amount of support collected by the family division judges.
Nine responding members agree that you should not preside in any case over which your spouse has supervisory authority as above described. We encourage you to carefully review Canon 3C and the following opinions:
Opinions 84/15, 77/4, 78/20, 77/12, 90/13, 88/10, 87/2, 87/8, 84/2, and 83/10
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 So2d 5 (Fla. 1976).
With regards, I remain
Yours very truly,
Oliver L. Green, Chairman
Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
cc: All Committee Members
Participating Members: Judges Green, Tolton, Dell, Goldstein, Booth, Doughtie,Frank, Shutter and Clarke, Esquire.
All reference to the inquiring judge is deleted from the copies sent to the following individuals.
Mr. Sid White, Clerk of the Supreme Court of Florida
Judson Orrick, Managing Editor, The Florida Bar Journal
Brooke S. Kennerly, Executive Director, Judicial Qualifications Commission.
Hon. Walter K. Stapleton, Chairman, Ethics Advisory Panel of the Judicial Conference of the United States .
Deborah Solomon, American Judicature Society
Ms. Jean Underhill, Librarian, Broward County Law Library
Mr. Robert Wallace, Librarian, Dade County Law Library
Mr. Brian Polley, Librarian, Supreme Court of Florida
Mr. Richard Kuhn, Court Administrator, Lee County
Hon. Thomas H . Barkdull , Jr ., Third District Court of Appeal
Lynda Glyman, Center for Professional Responsibility, American Bar Association