May 11, 1992
(OPINION NO: 92-15b
(Conflict with duties
RE: Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges - Your inquiry dated February 24, 1992
You state you are a Dade County traffic magistrate and ask whether it is permissible to belong to local chambers of commerce and a realtor board in your city. You indicate you would not serve as an officer, director or trustee of any of these organizations.
Nine of the ten committee members responded and all agreed membership by a traffic magistrate in these groups in not prohibited under the Code of Judicial Conduct. Canon 5 (B) requires a judge to regulate his or her extrajudicial activities to minimize the risk of conflict with judicial duties. Although the compliance section of the Code exempts magistrates from certain provisions of the Code, Canon 5 (B) is not one of them. However, the committee reasoned it would be difficult to imagine how any of these organizations would pose a conflict to a traffic magistrate. The committee concluded its response may have been different if the inquiry was from a trial judge presiding over civil cases.
The committee also warned against fund raising for these groups and one member recommended caution against active membership since it could reflect on your impartiality.
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,
Jere Tolton, Chairman
Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
cc: All Committee Members
Participating members: Judges Tolton, Green, Levy, Dell, Doughtie, Goldstein, Farina, Rushing and Clarke, Esq.
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
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
Hon. Charles McClure, Chief Judge, Second Judicial Circuit
Office of State Court Administrator, Legal Affairs &Education