May 31, 1994
(Judge's spouse's ability to
PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL
RE: Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
Your inquiry dated April 27, 1994
You have requested an opinion from our Committee concerning the political activities of your spouse. Your spouse wishes to support a county judge who is up for election. As you know, a judge's spouse is free to politic free from the constraints that apply to the judge. You question to what degree you might be perceived as participating in your spouse's activities. All of our Committee agrees that your spouse can have a campaign party at his law office in support of the judge even though you are listed as a co-tenant on the deed. You should not attend such a party.
Our Committee is evenly divided on the issue of you attending a party at your spouse's office where the candidate judge is simply a guest and not an honoree. A big problem pointed out by those members feeling this would be improper is that the purpose of the party would seem obvious. On the other hand, if the party was an annual law firm party that had been going on for years, your attendance would seem more normal and natural.
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).
Very truly yours,
Nath C. Doughtie, Chairman
Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
cc: All Committee Members
Office of the Courts Administrator (name of judge deleted from this copy)
Participating members: Judges Dell, Doughtie, Farina , Goldstein, Green, Kahn, Patterson , Rushing, Taylor, Tolton and Edwards, Esq.