September 2, 1994


(OPINION 94-31
(Fund raising - Juvenile Justice Board

Re: Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
Your Inquiry Dated July 22, 1994

You have requested an Opinion from our Committee inquiring whether or not you and others in your circuit may serve on the district Juvenile Justice Board and associated local councils which plan to raise funds through establishing 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporations and to lobby for legislative changes.

In the past, our Committee has found no impropriety with service on similar boards, with the caveat that members abstain from personal fund raising and voting on certain conflict of interest issues. See Opinions 88-24 (HRS Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Planning Council); 88-30 (HRS District IV Planning Council); 92-11 (Children's Service Council) and 94-04 (HRS Juvenile Detention Center's Community Advisory Board) Additionally, the existence of the nonprofit corporations would provide another layer of insulation from your personal participation in public fund raising activities.

As to the propriety of lobbying efforts of the Board for proposed legislative changes, in Opinion 75-14, this Committee held that judicial officers may communicate with members of the legislature on matters concerning the administration of justice, including the appropriation and distribution of funds deemed necessary to operate and finance the court system and Opinion 88-22 stated that judicial support of salary increases for judicial assistants is not prohibited.

Because the activities of the District Juvenile Justice Board and local councils are law related, the Committee believes the you should be able to continue to serve, at least as a member pursuant to Canon 4C. Of course, you may have to abstain on certain votes that involve conflict of interest issues and you should not personally solicit funds as proscribed by Canon 5B(2). Because of the high profile nature of serving as chairperson, you should be especially sensitive not to allow the misuse of the prestige of your judicial office by the Board or any 501(c)(3) corporation in future fund raising.

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 judges, but the Judicial Qualifications Commission is not bound by the interpretive opinions by the Committee. Petition of the Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges, 327 So.2d 5 (Fla. 1976).

Very truly yours,

Steve Rushing, Chairman
Committee on Standards of Conduct
Governing Judges

CC: All Committee Members
Office of the State Courts Administrator
(Name of judge deleted from this copy)

Participating Members: Judges Doughtie, Farina, Green, Kahn, Patterson, Rushing, Taylor, Tolton