June 20, 1991
Opinion No. 91-8
You inquire about proper methods for closing out your law practice so that you can assume the Office of Judge of Compensation Claims for the Department of Labor and Employment Security. You wish to know if you are entitled to collect quantum merit earned fees from case files transferred to other attorneys. You also wish to know whether you are permitted to hear cases by attorneys to whom you are referring cases, although, of course, you would not hear referred cases.
Your inquiry is covered by Canon 3C(1)(b), and the following opinions: 81-11, 82-7, 89-1, 75-7, 77-11, and 78-16. There is no proscription against the receipt of earned fees so long as the computation is based on traditional standards.
The nine responding committee members also believe there is no proscription against you hearing other cases of attorneys to whom assignments have been made. Two of the committee members believe that it would be worthwhile to delay hearing any cases of attorneys to whom your cases have been assigned until a reasonable time has elapsed.
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).
With regards, I remain,
Yours very truly,
Oliver L. Green, Jr.,Immediate Past Chairman
Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
cc: All Committee Members
Participating Members: Judges Green, Tolton, Booth, Dell, Doughtie,Frank, Goldstein, Farina, 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 .
Cynthia Grey,Director, American Judicature Society
Ms. Jean Underhill, Librarian, Broward County Law Library
Mr. Robert Wallace, Librarian, Dade County Law Library
Ms. Joan D. Cannon, Librarian, Supreme Court of Florida
William D. Wilkinson, Court Administrator, Lee County
Hon. Thomas H . Barkdull , Jr ., Third District Court of Appeal
Lynda Glyman, Esq. Center for Professional Responsibility, American Bar Association
Office of the State Courts Administrator, Legal Affairs & Education
Hon. Charles McClure, Chief Judge, Second Judicial Circuit