Supreme Court of Florida
CODE OF JUDICIAL CONDUCT
[January 10, 2002]
The Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee petitions this Court to consider
amendments to the Florida Code of Judicial Conduct. The committee further
petitions the Court to amend the committee’s enabling authority as established in
Petition of Committee on Standards of Conduct for Judges, 327 So. 2d 5 (Fla.
1976), and amended in Petition of Committee on Standards for Conduct of Judges,
367 So. 2d 625 (Fla. 1979), and Petition of Committee on Standards of Conduct
Governing Judges, 698 So. 2d 834 (Fla. 1997). We have jurisdiction. See art. V, §
2(a), Fla. Const.
In response to our request that the committee consider whether canons
5D(5)(h) and 6B(2) should be amended to clarify the issue of aggregation of the
value of gifts received by judges in one year, the committee unanimously approved
the one-year study of its subcommittee to amend canon 5D(5)(h), and we adopt the
amendment as proposed.
We amend canon 6B to substitute “Florida Commission on Ethics” for
“Secretary of State” in canon 6B(1)–(2), Form 6A, and the commentary to canon
6. This will conform the canon to section 112.3144(1), Florida Statutes (2001),
which requires that constitutional officers file annual disclosures of financial
interests with the Florida Commission on Ethics. An additional amendment to
canon 6B will add subdivision (c), requiring each judge to file a final financial
disclosure within sixty days of leaving judicial office, unless the judge takes another
public position that requires full and public financial disclosure. The canon 6B(c)
disclosure must cover the period from January 1 of the current year through the last
day on which the judge is in office.
Finally, we amend the committee’s enabling authority by adding to the
committee one attorney member, increasing from one year to four years the length
of the terms of the attorney members, and staggering the terms of the attorney
members so that The Florida Bar Board of Governors will appoint a new attorney
member every two years. The committee currently consists of three judges from
our district courts of appeal, four circuit court judges, three county court judges,
and one attorney. The committee believes, and we agree, that having the
perspective of practicing attorneys is invaluable for its work, and that adding a new
attorney member and increasing the length of the terms of the attorney members will
aid the work of the committee. Furthermore, continuity is served by the staggering
The committee proposals were published in The Florida Bar News for
comments. No comments were received on the proposals. Having considered the
proposed amendments and having received no comments, we adopt the
amendments as proposed. We have edited the proposals for style and grammar.
Accordingly, we amend canons 5D(5)(h) and 6B, Form 6A, the commentary
to canon 6 of the Florida Code of Judicial Conduct, and the committee’s enabling
authority as set forth in the attached appendix. New language is indicated by
underscoring. The amendments are effective immediately.
It is so ordered.
WELLS, C.J., and SHAW, HARDING, ANSTEAD, PARIENTE, LEWIS, and
QUINCE, JJ., concur.
THE FILING OF A MOTION FOR REHEARING SHALL NOT ALTER THE
EFFECTIVE DATE OF THESE AMENDMENTS.
Original Proceeding - Code of Judicial Conduct
Honorable Charles J. Kahn, Jr., Chair, Florida Supreme Court Judicial Ethics
Advisory Committee, Tallahassee, Florida,
A Judge Shall Regulate Extrajudicial Activities to
Minimize the Risk of Conflict with Judicial Duties
A. Extrajudicial Activities in General. A judge shall conduct all of the
judge’s extra-judicial activities so that they do not:
(1) cast reasonable doubt on the judge’s capacity to act impartially as a
(2) demean the judicial office; or
(3) interfere with the proper performance of judicial duties.
B. Avocational Activities. A judge may speak, write, lecture, teach and
participate in other extrajudicial activities concerning non-legal subjects, subject to
the requirements of this Code.
Governmental, Civic or Charitable Activities.
(1) A judge shall not appear at a public hearing before, or otherwise
consult with, an executive or legislative body or official except on matters
concerning the law, the legal system or the administration of justice or except
when acting pro se in a matter involving the judge or the judge’s interests.
(2) A judge shall not accept appointment to a governmental committee
or commission or other governmental position that is concerned with issues of
fact or policy on matters other than the improvement of the law, the legal
system or the administration of justice. A judge may, however, represent a
country, state or locality on ceremonial occasions or in connection with
historical, educational or cultural activities.
(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 the following limitations and
the other requirements of this Code.
(a) A judge shall not serve as an officer, director, trustee or nonlegal advisor if it is likely that the organization
(i) will be engaged in proceedings that would ordinarily come
before the judge, or
(ii) will be engaged frequently in adversary proceedings in the
court of which the judge is a member or in any court subject to the
appellate jurisdiction of the court of which the judge is a member.
(b) A judge as an officer, director, trustee or non-legal advisor, or
as a member or otherwise:
(i) may assist such an organization in planning fund-raising
and may participate in the management and investment of the
organization’s funds, but shall not personally participate in the
solicitation of funds or other fund-raising activities, except that a
judge may solicit funds from other judges over whom the judge does
not exercise supervisory or appellate authority;
(ii) shall not personally participate in membership solicitation if
the solicitation might reasonably be perceived as coercive or, except
as permitted in Section 5C(3)(b)(i), if the membership solicitation is
essentially a fund-raising mechanism;
(iii) shall not use or permit the use of the prestige of judicial
office for fund-raising or membership solicitation.
(1) A judge shall not engage in financial and business dealings that
(a) may reasonably be perceived to exploit the judge’s judicial
(b) involve the judge in frequent transactions or continuing business
relationships with those lawyers or other persons likely to come before
the court on which the judge serves.
(2) A judge may, subject to the requirements of this Code, hold and
manage investments of the judge and members of the judge’s family, including
real estate, and engage in other remunerative activity.
(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
(b) a business entity primarily engaged in investment of the financial
resources of the judge or members of the judge’s family.
(4) A judge shall manage the judge’s investments and other financial
interests to minimize the number of cases in which the judge is disqualified. As
soon as the judge can do so without serious financial detriment, the judge shall
divest himself or herself of investments and other financial interests that might
require frequent disqualification.
(5) A judge shall not accept, and shall urge members of the judge’s
family residing in the judge’s household not to accept, a gift, bequest, favor or
loan from anyone except for:
(a) a gift incident to a public testimonial, books, tapes and other
resource materials supplied by publishers on a complimentary basis for
official use, or an invitation to the judge and the judge’s spouse or guest
to attend a bar-related function or an activity devoted to the improvement
of the law, the legal system or the administration of justice;
(b) a gift, award or benefit incident to the business, profession or
other separate activity of a spouse or other family member of a judge
residing in the judge’s household, including gifts, awards and benefits for
the use of both the spouse or other family member and the judge (as
spouse or family member), provided the gift, award or benefit could not
reasonably be perceived as intended to influence the judge in the
performance of judicial duties;
(c) ordinary social hospitality;
(d) a gift from a relative or friend, for a special occasion, such as a
wedding, anniversary or birthday, if the gift is fairly commensurate with
the occasion and the relationship;
(e) a gift, bequest, favor or loan from a relative or close personal
friend whose appearance or interest in a case would in any event require
disqualification under Canon 3E;
(f) a loan from a lending institution in its regular course of business
on the same terms generally available to persons who are not judges;
(g) a scholarship or fellowship awarded on the same terms and
based on the same criteria applied to other applicants; or
(h) any other gift, bequest, favor or loan, only if: the donor is not a
party or other person who has come or is likely to come or whose
interests have come or are likely to come before the judge; and, if its
value, or the aggregate value in a calendar year of such gifts, bequests,
favors, or loans from a single source, exceeds $100.00, the judge reports
it in the same manner as the judge reports compensationgifts inunder
(1) A judge shall not serve as executor, administrator or other personal
representative, trustee, guardian, attorney in fact or other fiduciary, except for
the estate, trust or person of a member of the judge’s family, and then only if
such service will not interfere with the proper performance of judicial duties.
(2) A judge shall not serve as a fiduciary if it is likely that the judge as a
fiduciary will be engaged in proceedings that would ordinarily come before the
judge, or if the estate, trust or ward becomes involved in adversary
proceedings in the court on which the judge serves or one under its appellate
(3) The same restrictions on financial activities that apply to a judge
personally also apply to the judge while acting in a fiduciary capacity.
F. Service as Arbitrator or Mediator. A judge shall not act as an
arbitrator or mediator or otherwise perform judicial functions in a private capacity
unless expressly authorized by law or Court rule. A judge may, however, take the
necessary educational and training courses required to be a qualified and certified
arbitrator or mediator, and may fulfill the requirements of observing and conducting
actual arbitration or mediation proceedings as part of the certification process,
provided such program does not, in any way, interfere with the performance of the
judge’s judicial duties.
G. 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.
Canon 5A. Complete separation of a judge from extra-judicial activities is
neither possible nor wise; a judge should not become isolated from the community
in which the judge lives.
Expressions of bias or prejudice by a judge, even outside the judge’s judicial
activities, may cast reasonable doubt on the judge’s capacity to act impartially as a
judge. Expressions which may do so include jokes or other remarks demeaning
individuals on the basis of their race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age,
sexual orientation or socioeconomic status. See Section 2C and accompanying
Canon 5B. In this and other Sections of Canon 5, the phrase "subject to the
requirements of this Code" is used, notably in connection with a judge’s
governmental, civic or charitable activities. This phrase is included to remind judges
that the use of permissive language in various Sections of the Code does not relieve
a judge from the other requirements of the Code that apply to the specific conduct.
Canon 5C(1). See Section 2B regarding the obligation to avoid improper
Canon 5C(2). Section 5C(2) prohibits a judge from accepting any
governmental position except one relating to the law, legal system or administration
of justice as authorized by Section 4D. The appropriateness of accepting
extrajudicial assignments must be assessed in light of the demands on judicial
resources created by crowded dockets and the need to protect the courts from
involvement in extrajudicial matters that may prove to be controversial. Judges
should not accept governmental appointments that are likely to interfere with the
effectiveness and independence of the judiciary.
Section 5C(2) does not govern a judge’s service in a nongovernmental
position. See Section 5C(3) permitting service by a judge with educational,
religious, charitable, fraternal, sororal or civic organizations not conducted for
profit. For example, service on the board of a public educational institution, unless
it were a law school, would be prohibited under Section 5C(2), but service on the
board of a public law school or any private educational institution would generally
be permitted under Section 5C(3).
Canon 5C(3). Section 5C(3) does not apply to a judge’s service in a
governmental position unconnected with the improvement of the law, the legal
system or the administration of justice; see Section 5C(2).
See Commentary to Section 5B regarding use of the phrase "subject to the
following limitations and the other requirements of this Code." As an example of
the meaning of the phrase, a judge permitted by Section 5C(3) to serve on the
board of a fraternal institution may be prohibited from such service by Sections 2C
or 5A if the institution practices invidious discrimination or if service on the board
otherwise casts reasonable doubt on the judge’s capacity to act impartially as a
Service by a judge on behalf of a civic or charitable organization may be
governed by other provisions of Canon 5 in addition to Section 5C. For example, a
judge is prohibited by Section 5G from serving as a legal advisor to a civic or
Canon 5C(3)(a). The changing nature of some organizations and of their
relationship to the law makes it necessary for a judge regularly to reexamine the
activities of each organization with which the judge is affiliated to determine if it is
proper for the judge to continue the affiliation. For example, in many jurisdictions
charitable hospitals are now more frequently in court than in the past.
Canon 5C(3)(b). A judge may solicit membership or endorse or encourage
membership efforts for a nonprofit educational, religious, charitable, fraternal,
sororal or civic organization as long as the solicitation cannot reasonably be
perceived as coercive and is not essentially a fund-raising mechanism. Solicitation
of funds for an organization and solicitation of memberships similarly involve the
danger that the person solicited will feel obligated to respond favorably to the
solicitor if the solicitor is in a position of influence or control. A judge must not
engage in direct, individual solicitation of funds or memberships in person, in
writing or by telephone except in the following cases: 1) a judge may solicit for
funds or memberships other judges over whom the judge does not exercise
supervisory or appellate authority, 2) a judge may solicit other persons for
membership in the organizations described above if neither those persons nor
persons with whom they are affiliated are likely ever to appear before the court on
which the judge serves and 3) a judge who is an officer of such an organization may
send a general membership solicitation mailing over the judge’s signature.
Use of an organization letterhead for fund-raising or membership solicitation
does not violate Section 5C(3)(b) provided the letterhead lists only the judge’s
name and office or other position in the organization, and, if comparable
designations are listed for other persons, the judge’s judicial designation. In
addition, a judge must also make reasonable efforts to ensure that the judge’s staff,
court officials and others subject to the judge’s direction and control do not solicit
funds on the judge’s behalf for any purpose, charitable or otherwise.
A judge must not be a speaker or guest of honor at an organization’s fundraising event, but mere attendance at such an event is permissible if otherwise
consistent with this Code.
Canon 5D(1). When a judge acquires in a judicial capacity information, such
as material contained in filings with the court, that is not yet generally known, the
judge must not use the information for private gain. See Section 2B; see also
A judge must avoid financial and business dealings that involve the judge in
frequent transactions or continuing business relationships with persons likely to
come either before the judge personally or before other judges on the judge’s court.
In addition, a judge should discourage members of the judge’s family from
engaging in dealings that would reasonably appear to exploit the judge’s judicial
position. This rule is necessary to avoid creating an appearance of exploitation of
office or favoritism and to minimize the potential for disqualification. With respect
to affiliation of relatives of the judge with law firms appearing before the judge, see
Commentary to Section 3E(1) relating to disqualification.
Participation by a judge in financial and business dealings is subject to the
general prohibitions in Section 5A against activities that tend to reflect adversely on
impartiality, demean the judicial office, or interfere with the proper performance of
judicial duties. Such participation is also subject to the general prohibition in Canon
2 against activities involving impropriety or the appearance of impropriety and the
prohibition in Section 2B against the misuse of the prestige of judicial office. In
addition, a judge must maintain high standards of conduct in all of the judge’s
activities, as set forth in Canon 1. See Commentary for Section 5B regarding use of
the phrase "subject to the requirements of this Code."
Canon 5D(2). This Section provides that, subject to the requirements of this
Code, a judge may hold and manage investments owned solely by the judge,
investments owned solely by a member or members of the judge’s family, and
investments owned jointly by the judge and members of the judge’s family.
Canon 5D(3). Subject to the requirements of this Code, a judge may
participate in a business that is closely held either by the judge alone, by members
of the judge’s family, or by the judge and members of the judge’s family.
Although participation by a judge in a closely-held family business might
otherwise be permitted by Section 5D(3), a judge may be prohibited from
participation by other provisions of this Code when, for example, the business
entity frequently appears before the judge’s court or the participation requires
significant time away from judicial duties. Similarly, a judge must avoid participating
in a closely-held family business if the judge’s participation would involve misuse
of the prestige of judicial office.
Canon 5D(5). Section 5D(5) does not apply to contributions to a judge’s
campaign for judicial office, a matter governed by Canon 7.
Because a gift, bequest, favor or loan to a member of the judge’s family
residing in the judge’s household might be viewed as intended to influence the
judge, a judge must inform those family members of the relevant ethical constraints
upon the judge in this regard and discourage those family members from violating
them. A judge cannot, however, reasonably be expected to know or control all of
the financial or business activities of all family members residing in the judge’s
Canon 5D(5)(a). Acceptance of an invitation to a law-related function is
governed by Section 5D(5)(a); acceptance of an invitation paid for by an individual
lawyer or group of lawyers is governed by Section 5D(5)(h).
A judge may accept a public testimonial or a gift incident thereto only if the
donor organization is not an organization whose members comprise or frequently
represent the same side in litigation, and the testimonial and gift are otherwise in
compliance with other provisions of this Code. See Sections 5A(1) and 2B.
Canon 5D(5)(d). A gift to a judge, or to a member of the judge’s family
living in the judge’s household, that is excessive in value raises questions about the
judge’s impartiality and the integrity of the judicial office and might require
disqualification of the judge where disqualification would not otherwise be required.
See, however, Section 5D(5)(e).
Canon 5D(5)(h). Section 5D(5)(h) prohibits judges from accepting gifts,
favors, bequests or loans from lawyers or their firms if they have come or are likely
to come before the judge; it also prohibits gifts, favors, bequests or loans from
clients of lawyers or their firms when the clients’ interests have come or are likely to
come before the judge.
Canon 5E(3). The restrictions imposed by this Canon may conflict with the
judge’s obligation as a fiduciary. For example, a judge should resign as trustee if
detriment to the trust would result from divestiture of holdings the retention of
which would place the judge in violation of Section 5D(4).
Canon 5F. Section 5F does not prohibit a judge from participating in
arbitration, mediation or settlement conferences performed as part of judicial duties.
An active judge may take the necessary educational and training programs to be
certified or qualified as a mediator or arbitrator, but this shall not be a part of the
judge’s judicial duties. While such a course will allow a judge to have a better
understanding of the arbitration and mediation process, the certification and
qualification of a judge as a mediator or arbitrator is primarily for the judge’s
personal benefit. While actually participating in the mediation and arbitration training
activities, care must be taken in the selection of both cases and locations so as to
guarantee that there is no interference or conflict between the training and the
judge’s judicial responsibilities. Indeed, the training should be conducted in such a
manner as to avoid the involvement of persons likely to appear before the judge in
Canon 5G. This prohibition refers to the practice of law in a representative
capacity and not in a pro se capacity. A judge may act for himself or herself in all
legal matters, including matters involving litigation and matters involving
appearances before or other dealings with legislative and other governmental
bodies. However, in so doing, a judge must not abuse the prestige of office to
advance the interests of the judge or the judge’s family. See Section 2B.
The Code allows a judge to give legal advice to and draft legal documents for
members of the judge’s family, so long as the judge receives no compensation. A
judge must not, however, act as an advocate or negotiator for a member of the
judge’s family in a legal matter.
Fiscal Matters of a Judge Shall be Conducted in a Manner
That Does Not Give the Appearance of Influence or
Impropriety; a Judge Shall Regularly File Public Reports as
Required by Article II, Section 8, of the Constitution of
Florida, and Shall Publicly Report Gifts; Additional Financial
Information Shall be Filed With the Judicial Qualifications
Commission to Ensure Full Financial Disclosure
A. Compensation for Quasi-Judicial and Extrajudicial Services and
Reimbursement of Expenses.
A judge may receive compensation and reimbursement of expenses for the
quasi-judicial and extrajudicial activities permitted by this Code, if the source of
such payments does not give the appearance of influencing the judge in the
performance of judicial duties or otherwise give the appearance of impropriety,
subject to the following restrictions:
(1) Compensation. Compensation shall not exceed a reasonable amount
nor shall it exceed what a person who is not a judge would receive for the
(2) Expense Reimbursement. Expense reimbursement shall be limited to
the actual cost of travel, food, and lodging reasonably incurred by the judge
and, where appropriate to the occasion, to the judge’s spouse. Any payment
in excess of such an amount is compensation.
Public Financial Reporting.
(1) Income and Assets. A judge shall file such public report as may be
required by law for all public officials to comply fully with the provisions of
Article II, Section 8, of the Constitution of Florida. The form for public
financial disclosure shall be that recommended or adopted by the Florida
Commission on Ethics for use by all public officials. The form shall be filed in
the office of the Secretary of Statewith the Florida Commission on Ethics on
the date prescribed by law, and a copy shall be filed simultaneously with the
Judicial Qualifications Commission.
(2) Gifts. A judge shall file a public report of all gifts which are required
to be disclosed under Canon 5D(5)(h) of the Code of Judicial Conduct. The
report of gifts received in the preceding calendar year shall be filed in the
Office of the Secretary of Statewith the Florida Commission on Ethics on or
before July 1 of each year. A copy shall be filed simultaneously with the
Judicial Qualifications Commission.
(3) Disclosure of Financial Interests Upon Leaving Office. A judge shall
file a final disclosure statement within 60 days after leaving office, which report
shall cover the period between January 1 of the year in which the judge leaves
office and his or her last day of office, unless, within the 60-day period, the
judge takes another public position requiring financial disclosure under Article
II, Section 8, of the Constitution of Florida, or is otherwise required to file full
and public disclosure for the final disclosure period. The form for disclosure
of financial interests upon leaving office shall be that recommended or adopted
by the Florida Commission on Ethics for use by all public officials. The form
shall be filed with the Florida Commission on Ethics and a copy shall be filed
simultaneously with the Judicial Qualifications Commission.
C. Confidential Financial Reporting to the Judicial Qualifications
To ensure that complete financial information is available for all judicial
officers, there shall be filed with the Judicial Qualifications Commission on or
before July 1 of each year, if not already included in the public report to be filed
under Canon 6B(1) and (2), a verified list of the names of the corporations and
other business entities in which the judge has a financial interest as of December 31
of the preceding year, which shall be transmitted in a separate sealed envelope,
placed by the Commission in safekeeping, and not be opened or the contents
thereof disclosed except in the manner hereinafter provided.
At any time during or after the pendency of a cause, any party may request
information as to whether the most recent list filed by the judge or judges before
whom the cause is or was pending contains the name of any specific person or
corporation or other business entity which is a party to the cause or which has a
substantial direct or indirect financial interest in its outcome. Neither the making of
the request nor the contents thereof shall be revealed by the chair to any judge or
other person except at the instance of the individual making the request. If the
request meets the requirements hereinabove set forth, the chair shall render a
prompt answer thereto and thereupon return the report to safekeeping for retention
in accordance with the provisions hereinabove stated. All such requests shall be
verified and transmitted to the chair of the Commission on forms to be approved
Limitation of Disclosure.
Disclosure of a judge’s income, debts, investments or other assets is required
only to the extent provided in this Canon and in Sections 3E and 3F, or as
otherwise required by law.
Canon 6A. See Section 5D(5)(a)-(h) regarding reporting of gifts, bequests
The Code does not prohibit a judge from accepting honoraria or speaking fees
provided that the compensation is reasonable and commensurate with the task
performed. A judge should ensure, however, that no conflicts are created by the
arrangement. Judges must not appear to trade on the judicial position for personal
advantage. Nor should a judge spend significant time away from court duties to
meet speaking or writing commitments for compensation. In addition, the source of
the payment must not raise any question of undue influence or the judge’s ability or
willingness to be impartial.
Canon 6C. Subparagraph A prescribes guidelines for additional
compensation and the reimbursement of expense funds received by a judge.
Subparagraphs B and C prescribe the three types of financial disclosure
reports required of each judicial officer.
The first is the Ethics Commission’s constitutionally required form pursuant to
Article II, Section 8, of the Constitution. It must be filed each year as prescribed by
law. The financial reporting period is for the previous calendar year. A final
disclosure statement generally is required when a judge leaves office. The filing of
the income tax return is a permissible alternative.
The second is a report of gifts received during the preceding calendar year to
be filed publicly inwith the Secretary of State’s OfficeFlorida Commission on
Ethics. The gifts to be reported are in accordance with Canon 5D(5)(h). This
reporting is in lieu of that prescribed by statute as stated in the Supreme Court’s
opinion rendered in In re Code of Judicial Conduct, 281 So. 2d 21 (Fla.1973). The
form for this report is as follows:
Form 6A. Gift Disclosure
All judicial officers must file with the Secretary of StateFlorida Commission on
Ethics a list of all gifts received during the preceding calendar year of a value in
excess of $100.00 as provided in Canon 5D(5) and Canon 6B(2) of the Code of
Please identify all gifts you received during the preceding calendar year of a
value in excess of $100.00, as required by Canon 5D(5) and Canon 6B(2) of the
Code of Judicial Conduct.
State of Florida
County of __________________________________
I, _______________________, the public official filing this disclosure statement,
being first duly sworn, do depose on oath and say that the facts set forth in the
above statement are true, correct, and complete to the best of my knowledge and
(Signature of Reporting Official)
(Signature of Officer Authorized to Administer Oaths)
My Commission expires __________________.
Sworn to and subscribed before me this
____________ day of ____________, 1920_______.
The third financial disclosure report is prescribed in subparagraph C. This
provision ensures that there will be complete financial information for all judicial
officers available with the Judicial Qualifications Commission by requiring that full
disclosure be filed confidentially with the Judicial Qualifications Commission in the
event the limited disclosure alternative is selected under the provisions of Article II,
The amendment to this Canon requires in 6B(2) a separate gift report to be
filed in the office ofwith the Secretary of StateFlorida Commission on Ethics on or
before July 1 of each year. The form to be used for that report is included in the
commentary to Canon 6. It should be noted that Canon 5, as it presently exists,
restricts and prohibits the receipt of certain gifts. This provision is not applicable to
other public officials.
With reference to financial disclosure, if the judge chooses the limited
disclosure alternative available under the provision of Article II, Section 8, of the
Constitution of Florida, without the inclusion of the judge’s Federal Income Tax
Return, then the judge must file with the Commission a list of the names of
corporations or other business entities in which the judge has a financial interest
even though the amount is less than $1,000. This information remains confidential
until a request is made by a party to a cause before the judge. This latter provision
continues to ensure that complete financial information for all judicial officers is
available with the Judicial Qualifications Commission and that parties who are
concerned about a judge’s possible financial interest have a means of obtaining that
information as it pertains to a particular cause before the judge.
Canon 6D. Section 3E requires a judge to disqualify himself or herself in any
proceeding in which the judge has an economic interest. See "economic interest" as
explained in the Definitions Section. Section 5D requires a judge to refrain from
engaging in business and from financial activities that might interfere with the
impartial performance of judicial duties; Section 6B requires a judge to report all
compensation the judge received for activities outside judicial office. A judge has
the rights of any other citizen, including the right to privacy of the judge’s financial
affairs, except to the extent that limitations established by law are required to
safeguard the proper performance of the judge’s duties.
Pursuant to the authority conferred in Article V, sections 2(b) and 15, Florida
Constitution, there is created a Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee, to be
composed of three district court of appeal judges, four circuit judges, three county
court judges, and onetwo practicing members of The Florida Bar. The Florida Bar
members will serve staggered four-year terms, with a new appointment every two
years. The purpose of the Committee shall be to render written advisory opinions
to inquiring judges concerning the propriety of contemplated judicial and nonjudicial conduct.
1. The judges on the Committee shall be selected by their respective court
conferences. The Bar members shall be selected by The Florida Bar’s Board of
2. The members of the Committee shall elect a chairman and a vicechairman, and each shall serve for a term of one calendar year. No officer shall
serve more than two successive terms. A majority vote of all of the members of
the Committee shall be required to elect the chairman and vice-chairman.
The chairman shall advise each of the chief judges of the several circuits
as to the duties and obligations of the Committee, and hethe chair shall preside at all
meetings. The vice-chairman shall preside in the absence of the chairman and
exercise all powers delegated to him by the chairman.
A quorum for the transaction of any committee business, whether in a
meeting or by circulated writing, shall be sixseven members of the Committee. A
majority of the members shall be required to concur in any advisory opinion issued
by the Committee.
5. The Committee shall render advisory opinions to inquiring judges relating
to the propriety of contemplated judicial and non-judicialnonjudicial conduct, but all
opinions shall be advisory in nature only. No opinion shall bind the Judicial
Qualifications Commission in any proceeding properly before that body. Actions
in accordance with an opinion of the Committee may, however, in the discretion of
the Commission, be considered as evidence of a good faith effort to comply with
the Code of Judicial Conduct; provided that no opinion issued to one judge or
justice shall be authority for the conduct, or evidence of good faith, of another
judge or justice unless the underlying facts are identical. All opinions rendered by
the Committee shall be in writing, and a copy of each opinion, together with the
request therefor, shall be filed with the Clerk of the Supreme Court and with the
chairman of the Judicial Qualifications Commission. All references to the name of
the requesting judge shall be deleted. In addition, the Committee may from time to
time submit to the Supreme Court formal proposals and recommendations relating
to the Code of Judicial Conduct.
6. No judge on the Committee shall participate in any matter before the
Committee in which hethe judge has a direct or indirect interest.
7. Any determination of the propriety or impropriety of particular conduct
by the Judicial Qualifications Commission shall supersede any conflicting opinion
of the Committee.
8. Opinions of the Committee may be published and compiled by The