March 20, 1990

Opinion 90/6
Family mediator - entitlement to advisory opinion

Dear Mr.

Your recent inquiry stems from your status as a full time family mediator serving on the staff of a circuit court at the direction and pleasure of the Chief Judge. You have posed three questions.

1) Am I subject to compliance with the Code of Judicial Conduct by virtue of my full-time employment on the court staff? (As a Judge, part-time Judge, or Judge pro-tempore?)

2) Am I subject to compliance with the Code of Judicial Conduct by virtue of my certification as mediator in the...Judicial Circuit? (As a judge, part-time judge, or judge pro-tempore?)

3) Would I be subject to compliance with the Code of Judicial Conduct as a part-time certified mediator? (As a judge, part-time judge, or judge pro tempore?)

It is the committee's practice, consistent with the Supreme Court's order, referred to in the last paragraph below, to confine its services to judges and judicial candidates. A majority of the Committee has concluded that as a mediator you are not within the class of persons entitled to seek an advisory opinion from the Committee. You are subordinate to the Chief Judge and it is he or she who must regulate your conduct in accordance with Canon 3B(2).

Three members of the Committee have expressed the view that your intimate involvement with the judicial function brings you within the Code of Judicial Conduct and that you should give full obedience to the Canons. One of these members equates your status with that of a traffic magistrate thus subjecting you to the Code of Judicial Conduct. In Re: Florida Rules of Practice and Procedure For Traffic Courts - Civil Traffic Infraction Hearing Officer Pilot Program, No. 74,567 (Fla. Dec. 21, 1989)[15 F.L.W. S2].

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).

Cordially yours,

Richard H. Frank, Chairman
Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges

cc: All Committee Members

Participating Members: Judges Green, Tolton, Goldstein, Dell, Booth, Doughtie,Frank, Simons, and Clarke, Esquire.

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 Journal
Brooke S. Kennerly, Executive Director, Judicial Qualifications Commission.
Hon. Walter K. Stapleton, Chairman, Ethics Advisory Panel of the Judicial Conference of the United States .
Deborah Solomon, American Judicature Society
Ms. Jean Underhill, Librarian, Broward County Law Library
Mr. Robert Wallace, Librarian, Dade County Law Library
Mr. Brian Polley, Librarian, Supreme Court of Florida
Mr. Richard Kuhn, Court Administrator, Lee County
Hon. Thomas H . Barkdull , Jr ., Third District Court of Appeal
Lynda Glyman, Center for Professional Responsibility, American Bar Association