June 3, 1992
( OPINION NO : 92 -19
( CANON 7 ( B )
RE: Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges - Your inquiry dated March 27, 1992 with addendum dated April 28 , 1992 .
You inquire whether you are restricted to limited campaign activities required by Canon 7(B) (3) since you are running for a judicial post different from the one you presently occupy. Specifically, you are a County Court Judge seeking an open Circuit Court seat without opposition.
Canon 7(B) (3) states in pertinent part as follows:
" . . . an incumbent judge who is a candidate for retention in office or re-election to office without a competing candidate, may conduct only limited campaign activities until such time as the judge certifies that his candidacy has drawn active opposition .... "
You maintain since you are neither running for retention or re-election, you should be allowed to campaign without restriction.
The committee, with one dissent, does not agree. Admittedly, the majority responded, the Code does not speak directly to this point, but its obvious spirit and intent is to restrict incumbent judges seeking election or re-election to judicial office without opposition to limited campaign activities.
In a second inquiry, you further indicate, several lawyers are at present vigorously campaigning for an open Circuit seat. Although you presently do not have opposition to the seat you seek, lawyers, traditionally switch or change seats during qualifying week. For this reason, the majority of committee members felt you have active opposition and therefore may campaign in earnest.
In summary, the committee finds you may begin full campaign activities. This opinion is based on the fact you presently have opposition .
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, Booth, 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