November 23, 2010
Jogging With Judge Unethical
The Florida Judical Ethics Advisory Committee has opined on a subject that has long fascinated legal ethics scholars. Here is the result:
Whether a judge may allow juveniles to perform their community service hours by participating in a jogging program with him.
ANSWER: No. Such an action, even if well-intentioned, reasonably could place the judge in situations undermining the impartiality of the judge’s judicial office.
The inquiring judge is assigned to a juvenile division in which the judge sometimes orders juveniles to perform community service hours as a condition of probation. The judge wants to create a program allowing juveniles to perform their community service hours by jogging with the judge at a school near the juvenile courthouse. The judge states that the program would be optional, and that law enforcement and juvenile probation officers would be present to certify the juveniles’ presence so that the judge would not become a potential witness if an issue arises about a juvenile’s involvement in the program. The judge would not engage in conversation with the juveniles about their cases. The judge further states that if any case raises conflict issues, the judge would enter an order of recusal.
The judge wishes to create this program to serve juveniles in several ways: curb their delinquency; improve their health; give them a more positive self-image; and provide them with positive role models.
It appears that the judge’s desire to create this program is well-intentioned. However, the judge’s participation in such a program likely would violate Canons 2A, 2B, 3B(7), and 5A(1), (2), (5) & (6) of the Code of Judicial Conduct...
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