Opinions of the Judicial Ethics
Advisory Committee



Retired/Senior Judges


NOTE: the Code of Judicial Conduct was amended in 2008.  Opinions prior to 2008 may not be consistent with the current Code. 

Code of Judicial Conduct
Application

B. Retired/Senior Judge

  1. [Senior Judge] A retired judge eligible to serve on assignment to temporary judicial duty, hereinafter referred to as “senior judge,” shall comply with all the provisions of this Code except Sections 5C(2), 5E, 5F(1), and 6A. A senior judge shall not practice law or serve as a mediator, arbitrator, or voluntary trial resolution judge in a circuit in which the judge is presiding as a senior judge, and shall refrain from accepting any assignment in any cause in which the judge’s present financial business dealings, investments, or other extra-judicial activities might be directly or indirectly affected.

  2. [Fully Retired Judge]  If a retired justice or judge does not desire to be assigned to judicial service, such justice or judge who is a member of The Florida Bar may engage in the practice of law and still be entitled to receive retirement compensation. The justice or judge shall then be entitled to all the rights of an attorney-at-law and no longer be subject to this Code.
Canons

Fla. Code Jud. Conduct, Canon 2.  A Judge Shall Avoid Impropriety and the Appearance of Impropriety in all of the Judge's Activities.

Fla. Code Jud. Conduct, Canon 3(E)(1) A judge shall disqualify himself or herself in a proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned, including but not limited to instances [described in subsections (a) – (f)].

Fla. Code Jud. Conduct, Commentary to Canons 3E(1). Under this rule, a judge is disqualified whenever the judge's impartiality might reasonably be questioned, regardless of whether any of the specific rules in Section 3E(1) apply. For example, if a judge were in the process of negotiating for employment with a law firm, the judge would be disqualified from any matters in which that law firm appeared, unless the disqualification was waived by the parties after disclosure by the judge.

Fla. Code Jud. Conduct, Canon 5A.  Extrajudicial Activities in General.

Fla. Code Jud. Conduct, Canon 5C(3).  A judge may serve as an officer, director, trustee or non-legal advisor of an educational, religious, charitable, fraternal, sororal or civic organization not conducted for profit, subject to [applicable] limitations and other requirements of this Code.

Fla. Code Jud. Conduct, Canon 5D.  Financial Activities.

Fla. Code Jud. Conduct, Canon 5D(3).  A judge shall not serve as an officer, director, manager, general partner, advisor or employee of any business entity except that a judge may, subject to the requirements of this Code, manage and participate in: (a)  a business closely held by the judge or members of the judge’s family, or (b)  a business entity primarily engaged in investment of the financial resources of the judge or members of the judge’s family.

[Senior Judge as a Mediator]

Fla. Code Jud. Conduct, Canon 5F(2).  A senior judge may serve as a mediator in a case in a circuit in which the senior judge is not presiding as a judge only if the senior judge is certified pursuant to rule 10.100, Florida Rules for Certified and Court-Appointed Mediators. Such senior judge may be associated with entities that are solely engaged in offering mediation or other alternative dispute resolution services but that are not otherwise engaged in the practice of law. However, such senior judge may not advertise, solicit business, associate with a law firm, or participate in any other activity that directly or indirectly promotes his or her mediation, arbitration, or voluntary trial resolution services and shall not permit an entity with which the senior judge associates to do so. A senior judge shall not serve as a mediator, arbitrator, or voluntary trial resolution judge in any case in a circuit in which the judge is currently presiding as a senior judge. A senior judge who provides mediation, arbitration, or voluntary trial resolution services shall not preside over any case in the circuit where such services are provided; however, a senior judge may preside over cases in circuits in which the judge does not provide such dispute-resolution services. A senior judge shall disclose if the judge is being utilized or has been utilized as a mediator, arbitrator, or voluntary trial resolution judge by any party, attorney, or law firm involved in the case pending before the senior judge. Absent express consent of all parties, a senior judge is prohibited from presiding over any case involving any party, attorney, or law firm that is utilizing or has utilized the judge as a mediator, arbitrator, or voluntary trial resolution judge within the previous three years. A senior judge shall disclose any negotiations or agreements for the provision of services as a mediator, arbitrator, or voluntary trial resolution judge between the senior judge and any parties or counsel to the case.

Fla. Code Jud. Conduct, Commentary to Canon 5F(2).  The purpose of the admonitions in this canon is to ensure that the impartiality of the senior judge is not subject to question. Although a senior judge may act as a mediator, arbitrator, or voluntary trial resolution judge in a circuit in which the judge is not presiding as a senior judge, attention must be given to relationships with lawyers and law firms which may require disclosure or disqualification. These provisions are intended to prohibit a senior judge from soliciting lawyers to use the senior judge’s mediation services when those lawyers are or may be before the judge in proceedings where the senior judge is acting in a judicial capacity and to require a senior judge to ensure that entities with which the senior judge associates as a mediator abide by the same prohibitions on advertising or promoting the senior judge's mediation service as are imposed on the senior judge.

Fla. Code Jud. Conduct, Canon 5G.  Practice of Law. A judge shall not practice law. Notwithstanding this prohibition, a judge may act pro se and may, without compensation, give legal advice to and draft or review documents for a member of the judge’s family.

Fla. Code Jud. Conduct, Canon 6A.  Compensation for Quasi-Judicial and Extrajudicial Services and Reimbursement or Payment of Expenses, and Waiver of Fees or Charges.

Opinions
JEAC Opinion Number
Subject

A senior judge subject to recall may serve as a county hearing officer regarding contract bid protest proceedings. Application, Canon 5A, 5C(2), 5F(2), 6A.

A senior judge who will be associated with an entity that is solely engaged in offering mediation or other alternative dispute resolution services and that is not otherwise engaged in the practice of law may not publish a professional announcement in the Florida Bar News or the local bar association’s magazine announcing the inquiring judge’s availability to mediate through a newly formed entity. Application, Canon 5F(2).

1. A senior judge who is retiring and not subject to recall may use his/her name along with the designations of “HON” (Honorable) and “RET” (Retired) on a program at the event commemorating the retiring judge’s career.

2. The Code of Judicial Conduct does not govern if similar designations may be used on the retired judge’s personal stationery or mediation/legal-related stationery.  Application.

A senior judge may not serve on the judicial council of a church. Canon 5C(3).

1. Canon 5F(2) of the Code of Judicial Conduct applies to service as a senior judge on a District Court of Appeal.

2. A senior judge is prohibited from serving on any case, including an appellate case pending in a District Court of Appeal, which originated in the judicial circuit where the senior judge currently provides arbitration services. Application, Application B(1), Canon 5F(2).

1.  A senior judge may serve as a court-appointed, litigant-paid independent investigator in a shareholders’ derivative action in a circuit where the judge does not preside.

2.  The senior judge is required to disclose such service and/or refrain from presiding over cases involving certain parties, lawyers, and law firms.  Canons 2, 5D, 5F(2), and Commentary to Canon 5F(2).

A senior judge may not work part time for an insurance adjusting company as an insurance umpire in any circuit in which the senior judge may preside. Application, Canons 5D(3), 5F(2), 5G.

A senior judge may not serve as a litigant-paid special magistrate in a circuit in which the judge is currently presiding as a senior judge. Canons 2, 5D, 5F(2), and Commentary to Canon 5F(2).

A senior judge may serve as an appellate mediator, if doing so would not result in an appearance of or the potential for impropriety, where the cases arise from outside of the state judicial circuit where the inquiring judge serves as senior judge. Application, Canons 3(E)(1)(a), 5F(2), Commentary to Canons 3E(1), 5F(2).

A senior judge may not mediate cases arising out of appeals from the circuit in which the senior judge presides. Application, Canon 5F(2).

A senior judge may serve as the officer of the professional association (the “P.A.”) of the judge’s deceased spouse’s solo law practice in order to file a corporate report as part of the process of closing the practice. Canons 5D(3), 5G, Definitions.

Lobbying, Activist, and Advocacy Groups

A senior judge is not permitted to act as a compensated expert witness in a matter pending in a county other than the one the judge is currently eligible to preside. 2A, 2B, 5C, 5E, 5F, and 6A.