September 7, 1993
Personal and Confidential
Co-authorship of CLE chapters
Re: Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges - Your inquiry dated August 4, 1993
You have asked for our opinion concerning the following situation:
As a county judge you are currently assigned to the criminal traffic division. You recently co authored a chapter on DUI trials for the Florida Bar's Continuing Legal Education course with a practicing criminal defense lawyer. You have no personal social or financial relationship with your co-author. The state attorney's office is aware of this co-authorship and, in fact, review and helped edit the chapter. Six members of our Committee feel that your situation presents no ethical problem. One of those responding members feels that disclosure should be made for a period of about one year. Three members that disclosure should be made and recusal only if requested. If the co-authorship was with the state attorney's office, then there should be disclosure. If the state attorney's office simply edited the product, disclosure would not be necessary. The primary concern of the three members of the Committee would be that if your co-author won a DUI trial before you and then the defendant was involved in some catastrophic accident, there could be some public criticism.
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).
Very truly yours,
Nath C. Doughtie, Chairman
Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
cc: All Committee Members
Office of State Court Administrator (name of Judge deleted from this copy)
Participating members: Judges Doughtie, Farina, Goldstein, Green, Kahn, Patterson, Rushing, Taylor, Tolton and Edwards, Esq.