January 21 , 1992
( OPINION NO: 92 -2
( Thank you notes on
RE: Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges - Your inquiry dated November 20, 1991.
You ask whether you may legally and ethically send a note of thanks for campaign contributions on judicial stationery.
The responding committee members unanimously agree the Code of Judicial Conduct prohibits you from sending thank you notes on judicial stationery. Judicial stationery should be used only for official business, not private purposes. Running for office is a personal endeavor, notwithstanding incumbency, and the impartiality of a judge who thanks private contributors through official channels will most certainly be questioned.
The Committee is not permitted to advise you whether such conduct is contrary to law.
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
Jere Tolton, Chairman, Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
cc: All Committee Members
Participating Members: Judges Tolton,Green,Booth,Dell, Doughtie, Goldstein, Farina, Levy and Clarke, Esq.
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
Brooke S. Kennerly, Executive Director, Judicial Qualifications Commission.
Hon. Walter K. Stapleton, Chairman, Ethics Advisory panel of the Judicial Conference of the United States .
Cynthia Grey, Director, American Judicature Society
Ms. Jean Underhill, Librarian, Broward County Law Library
Mr. Robert Wallace, Librarian, Dade County Law Library
Ms. Joan D. Cannon, Librarian, Supreme Court of Florida
William D. Wilkinson, Court Administrator, Lee County
Hon. Thomas H. Barkdull, Jr. , Third District Court of Appeal
Lynda Glyman, Esq. Center for Professional Responsibility, American Bar Association
Hon. Charles McClure, Chief Judge, Second Judicial Circuit
Office of State Court Administrator, Legal Affairs & Education