Judicial conferences are prohibited from raising funds for their colleagues


Posted On Jun 12 2021 by

first_imgJudicial conferences are prohibited from raising funds for their colleagues Judges may not donate money through their professional conferences to help colleagues devastated by Hurricane Michael, the Supreme Court has ruled.“The desire to provide financial aid to fellow judges and court staff adversely affected by Hurricane Michael is laudable, but such assistance may only be provided through a civic or charitable organization in accordance with Canon 5C(3), not through the Conferences,” the justices wrote.The May 28 opinion, In Re: Amendments to Canons 4 and 5 of the Florida Code of Judicial Conduct, Case No. SC19-1625, rejects several amendments to the Code of Judicial Conduct that were proposed by a minority of the Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee.The issue arose after the storm leveled a large swath of Northwest Florida in October 2018, and the 12-member panel divided over the following question:“May the Florida Conference of Circuit Judges and the Conference of County Court Judges of Florida (collectively “Conferences”) or individual judges seek donations from the Conferences’ members so that the Conferences can directly provide monetary assistance, to fellow judges, judicial assistants, and court staff impacted by Hurricane Michael?”JEAC limited its analysis to judge-to-judge solicitation because it does not advise conferences.The panel decided Canon 4 is the controlling authority — “A Judge is Encouraged to Engage Activities to improve the Law, the Legal System and the Administration of Justice.”Canon 5, “A Judge Shall Regulate Extrajudicial Activities to Minimize the Risk of Conflict with Judicial Duties,” did not apply, the panel concluded, because the conferences are not civic or charitable organizations.But the panel split evenly over the central question of whether the type of judge-to-judge charitable activity at issue was permissible.Six members believed that Canon 4D(2)(a) permitted such activities only if the funds are used for a law-related purpose. The other six observed that the canon contains no such limitation on the use of solicited funds, and that judges need only avoid the appearance of coercion.The Supreme Court then asked JEAC to consider “the type of fundraising activities at issue in its advisory opinion and provide a recommendation as to whether such activities should be allowed or prohibited.”JEAC responded with a report, and a minority’s proposed amendments to Canons 4 and 5. The report concluded that judge-to-judge solicitation described in advisory opinion 2018-27 is prohibited.The committee noted, however, “that a judge may undertake comparable fundraising activities under Canon 5C(3)(b) on behalf of an ‘educational, religious, charitable, fraternal, sororal or civic organization not conducted for profit,’ if he or she solicits monetary donations from only judges he or she does not exercise supervisory or appellate authority over.”According to the JEAC, limiting the judge-to-judge fundraising described in advisory opinion 2018- 27 to the circumstances set out in Canon 5C(3)(b) ensures that solicited funds are used for “well-defined purposes” and are accounted for and distributed appropriately.Five members of the committee concluded that amendments to Canons 4 and 5 would be needed to clarify when judge-to-judge solicitation is appropriate.But the justices decided there was no need for the proposed amendments.“Having considered the petition and proposed amendments, the Court has determined that the existing rule provisions prohibit the judge-to-judge solicitation addressed in advisory opinion 2018-27 and that the scope of those provisions is not ambiguous,” the justices wrote.The justices found that the conferences are not charitable organizations.“Rather, as organizations tasked with judicial education, improving the administration of justice, and the overall betterment of the judicial system in Florida, they are law-related organizations under Canon 4D,” the opinion states. “Although Canon 4D(2)(a) permits certain judge-to-judge fundraising on behalf of the Conferences, the use of such funds is necessarily limited to law related purposes consistent with the Conferences’ mission.” Jun 02, 2020 By Jim Ash Senior Editor Regular Newslast_img

Last Updated on: June 12th, 2021 at 7:12 am, by


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