Opinions of the Judicial Ethics
Advisory Committee



2019


 

 Opinion
 Canon(s)
 Subject
2019-01
Application

1. Whether the Code of Judicial Conduct permits a senior judge who is retiring and not subject to recall to use his/her name along with the designations of “HON” (Honorable) and “RET” (Retired) on a program at the event commemorating the retiring judge’s career.

2. Whether the Code of Judicial Conduct governs if similar designations may be used on the retired judge’s personal stationery or mediation/legal-related stationery.

2019-02
1, 2A, 2B, 3B(1), 3B(8), 3B(9), 4A, 5A, 5D(1)(b), 5D(3), 6A

1. May a sitting judge film a pilot for a law-related television show?

2. May a sitting judge participate in the taping of a television pilot if the same is being filmed in another state, and accept compensation and travel reimbursement?

3. May a sitting judge participate as the television judge and remain on the bench if an offer is extended by the producers of the television show?

2019-03
3E (l)(a)

1. Whether a judge is permanently disqualified from presiding over cases in which a party is represented by the judge's former campaign opponent or the opponent’s law partners.

2. May the judge rescind a blanket order disqualifying the judge from hearing cases involving parties represented by a former campaign opponent or opponent’s law partner after the passage of a reasonable period of time?

2019-04
3B(9), 4A, 4B

May a judge respond to a Supreme Court request for comments concerning a proposed rule change?

2019-05
5F(2)

May a senior judge who will be associated with an entity that is solely engaged in offering mediation or other alternative dispute resolution services and that is not otherwise engaged in the practice of law publish a professional announcement in the Florida Bar News or the local bar association’s magazine announcing the inquiring judge’s availability to mediate through a newly formed entity?

2019-06
3E, 3E(1)

Whether a judge may allow an adult child living in the judge's home to be employed part-time by a local criminal defense attorney.

2019-07
2, 3, 3E(1), 3E(1)(b), 3E(1)(d)(ii), 5D(1)(b)

Whether a judge is disqualified from cases handled by attorneys or their firms to whom the judge, before assuming the bench, referred cases that could have generated referral fees to the judge.

2019-08
3E(1)

Whether a judge must recuse himself or herself from a case when the judge’s spouse’s law partner served as chair of a Florida Bar section that filed an amicus brief in the case.

2019-09
4D, 4D(1)(b), 5C(2), Application A(1) & B(1)

May a General Magistrate continue to serve as a member of the Board of Adjustments and Appeals within that member’s municipality?

2019-10
5C(3)(a)(i)(ii), 5C(3)(b), 5C(3)(b)(i), 5C(3)(b)(ii) and (iii), 4D(2)(b)

1. May a judge who has become president of a religious organization meet with potential new members to solicit membership?

2. May the judge solicit direct donations to the religious organization?

3. May the judge sell tickets to the religious organization’s fundraiser?

4. May the judge thank donors at fundraisers and receptions for major donors?

5. May the judge “urge” members of the religious organization to attend various organizational fundraisers and other functions?

6. May the judge announce to the members of the religious organization various upcoming events, including fundraisers occurring at the location of the organization.

2019-11
4D(2)(b), 5A, 5A(6), 5C(3)(b)(iii)

May a judge accept an award as an “Outstanding Alumni” from a college alumni foundation at a ceremony where the primary purpose is fundraising for the foundation?

2019-12
2A, 2B, 3D(1) and 3E (1)

Whether a judge must automatically, i.e. without request or motion, recuse himself/herself from all cases in which an attorney is involved who was an opponent of the judge in a recent, contested election.

2019-13
2A, 3B, and 3E

1. Whether circumstances have changed from when Fla. JEAC op. 00-03 was issued so that a judge must now use the form provided by DCF when reporting instances of child abuse, neglect, or abandonment that are brought to the judge's attention, pursuant to section 39.201, Florida Statutes (2019).

2. May a judge make inquiries of any kind, such as the names of children, to complete the mandatory reporting requirements of section 39.201?

3. May a judge summarize allegations of abuse, abandonment, or neglect in making such a report?

4. Whether the answer to the third issue is different if the allegations are made in court documents or in a hearing or trial.

5. Whether a judge who is assigned a case based upon a report that the judge made to DCF must disclose to the parties that he or she made the report.

6. Whether mandatory reporting under section 39.201 by a judge creates a legally sufficient basis for the reporting judge to be disqualified from a case.

7. Whether mandatory reporting under section 39.201 is a permitted ex parte communication under Canon 3B(7)(e).

2019-14
3D(2), Commentary

Whether the inquiring judge has a duty to report an attorney to The Florida Bar in circumstances where representations made to the court by the attorney during a judicial proceeding were known by the inquiring judge to be false.

2019-15
4D(2)(b), 5, 5A, 5C,  5C(3), 5C(3)(b), 5C(3)(b)(i), (iii), Commentary to Canon 5 and 5C(3)(b)

1. Whether a judge may participate in a Habitat for Humanity fund-raiser by donating baked goods that will be auctioned off during the event.

2. Whether a judge may participate in a Habitat for Humanity fund-raising event by serving as an auctioneer of the donated baked goods who will “get on stage to entertain the attendees in some fashion to encourage bids.”

2019-16
2B, 3E(1), 3E(1)(d), and 3F

WHETHER A JUDGE WHO IS INVOLVED ROMANTICALLY WITH AN ATTORNEY MUST DISCLOSE THAT RELATIONSHIP IN CASES WHERE ONE SIDE IS REPRESENTED BY THE FIRM THAT HAS A PROFESSIONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH THE ATTORNEY.

WHETHER THE JUDGE MUST ALSO AUTOMATICALLY RECUSE FROM CASES INVOLVING THE FIRM WITH WHOM THE ATTORNEY IS ASSOCIATED.

2019-17
3E

1. Whether a judge whose lawyer-parent is no longer associated with former law firm must continue recusing from the law firm’s cases.

2. Whether judge whose parent owns building leased to a law firm must enter automatic recusal when the firm has a case before the judge.

2019-18
4A, 4B, 5A, 5B and Commentary to 5D(5)

1. May a judge write a book that touches on matters related to family court, mental health and warning signs?

2. May a judge actively promote the book?

2019-19
2, 3E, 5D(a)-(h), 6B

May a judge accept a friend's offer of  a free stay in a suite at a resort property, which suite has been provided to the friend by an attorneys' association holding a conference at the resort.

2019-20
4D(2)(b), 5, 5A, 5C, 5C(3), 5C(3)(b), 5C(3)(b)(i), (iii), Commentary to Canon 5 and 5C(3)(b)

Whether a judge may attend a fund-raising event for a nonprofit civic organization to present an award to a friend being recognized as a community leader.

2019-21
5A, 7A(1)(e)

Whether a judge may contribute to a local historical society that is soliciting funds to commission a portrait of a former mayor.

2019-22
(Election)
7

1. May a judicial candidate post, share, promote or send, to the candidate’s social media friends, the candidate’s campaign kickoff party invitation which does not have a solicitation for contributions or support?

2. May a judicial candidate post, share, promote or send, to the candidate’s personal social media friends, the candidate campaign’s invitation to the campaign’s “Kickoff Fundraiser?”

3. May a judicial candidate post, share, promote or send, to the candidate’s personal social media friends, the candidate campaign’s social media website which suggests, directs or provides the viewer with a link to contribute to or support the candidate?

4. May a judicial candidate use a photograph in which an elected official, not up for reelection, appears?

2019-23
2A; 3B(3), (4),(6), (7); 3D(2);  4A(1-6); 5A(1-6)

May the chief judge of a circuit, a criminal division administrative judge, or a criminal division judge contact the elected State Attorney, Public Defender, or their designated supervisory level attorneys to discuss judicial concerns about any of  their attorneys’ conduct which adversely impacts the administration of justice?

2019-24
3E(1), Commentary to Canon 3E(1)

1. Whether a judge should disqualify himself or herself from all cases involving an insurance company which has amicably settled a claim made by the judge.

2. Whether a judge should disclose to the parties that the judge made a claim against an insurer who is a party to case before the judge.

2019-25
(Election)
7, 7A(1)(b), 7A(3)(d), 7C(1)

Whether a judicial candidate’s campaign manager / consultant who has been retained by other judicial candidates in the same judicial circuit for different seats advertise or publish in any way, a slate or “group of his picks” using the names and/or images of those judicial candidates together in the same ad / publication.

Whether the judicial candidate must advise the campaign manager / consultant not to advertise or publish in any way, a slate or “group of his picks” using the names and/or images of those judicial candidates together in the same ad / publication.

2019-26
2B; 5C(3)(b)(iii)

May a judge participate in the filming of a video that will be used exclusively for educational purposes on a behavioral health entity website and social media platform in an effort to educate the community about the court-based mental health diversion project? The Judge will not promote the entity but rather will be discussing the mental health diversion project.

2019-27
4A(1)-(6) and Canon 4B

1.   May the chief judge appear before various local volunteer bar associations and explain a pro bono referral service which would refer military veterans with legal needs to attorneys who would provide their services pro bono?

2.   May the inquiring judge the solicit attorney volunteers for the referral service when explaining this the referral service to the voluntary bar associations?

2019-28
5(D)(1)(b) and Canon 5G

1. Whether a judge must sell an interest in an out-of-state law firm upon election or appointment to the bench?

2019-29
5A(1)

May a judge accept an "honorary" membership in the National Black Prosecutors' Association?

2019-30
4A(3)

May a judge publish a work of fiction using a pen name?

2019-31
3B9-10, 5A(1)-(5), 5C2, 5C(3), 5C(3)(a)(i)(ii) Commentary to Canons 2A, 2C, 4D(1), 5C(2), 5C(3)(a)

May a judge to serve as a member of the House of Deputies at the 2021 General Convention of the Episcopal Church?

2019-32
(Election)
 

May a judicial candidate who currently serves as a Special Magistrate refer to that position by name in campaign advertising?

2019-33
5A, 5C(2), 5F(2), 6A
May a senior judge subject to recall serve as a county hearing officer regarding contract bid protest proceedings?
2019-34
7A(1) and 7D
May a judge continue to be a member of a religious organization that intends to lease space to a partisan political organization for a political rally or speech?
2019-35
5(C)(2)
May a chief judge appoint a member to an independent local ethics commission?