May 11, 1992

( OPINION NO: 92-16

RE: Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges - Your inquiry dated February 3, 1992.

You state you are often invited to escort a newspaper columnist to various social and civic affairs, and the newspaper pays for both your tickets to these events. You ask whether this is considered a gift, which you must report, and whether you are the recipient of the ticket from the columnist or the newspaper.

Nine of the ten members of the committee responded and unanimously agreed payment of your tickets to these functions is a gift, and a gift from the newspaper. You are accepting either ordinary social hospitality allowed by Canon 5(C) (4) (b), or other gifts permitted by Canon 5 (C) (4) (c), provided the newspaper is not a party whose interests have in the past or may likely in the future come before you. Since the newspaper routinely pays for your tickets, you must report them in the manner prescribed by Canon 6, when the cumulative value exceeds $100.

The committee also agreed it may be best to advise your escort of this problem and insist you pay for your own ticket to these affairs.

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

JT / mc

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