October 9, 1975

Opinion 75-26

Re: Canon 5B(2)

Dear Judge:

In your letter of September 8, 1975, you inquire as to the propriety of a circuit Judge serving as chairman of the Anti-Defamation League of B'Nai B'rith.

A majority of the Committee, with three members dissenting, see no impropriety, per se, in a circuit judge serving as chairman of the aforesaid organization.

However, the Committee was unanimous is stating that a circuit judge should not participate in any fund raising activity of the League. 5B(2). Here it appears that the chairman of a Regional Board has the final authority to approve the overall planning of fund raising campaign and may find it difficult to avoid activities which conflict with Canon 5B(2).

It also appears that the chairman may be required to review the state wide activities of the League to ascertain whether its adversary proceedings in any court would be on a fairly regular basis. A judge should not serve if it is likely that the organization would be engaged in proceedings that would ordinarily come before him, or would be regularly engaged in adversary proceedings in any court. Should the organization become regularly involved in litigation, the judge would have to resign, not only as chairman, but from the organization itself.

One of the dissenting members was of the opinion that the Anti-Defamation League B'Nai B'rith has a national image for political activism, and for this reason a judge should not accept chairmanship of the Leagues's florida Regional Board. His apprehension was that by acceptance of the chairmanship, he could create a reasonable appearance that the League was in a special position to influence him.

In summary, the Committee finds the goals and objectives of the League to be commendable and laudable and membership in the League would create no reasonable grounds for impropriety. However, as chairman of the Regional Board, he may be placed in the position where there would be, or appear to be, a risk of conflict.

We trust the foregoing will be of some assistance to you.

With high esteem, I am

Gunter Stephenson, Chairman
Committee on Standards of Judicial Conduct

cc: All Committee members