February 17, 2012
From the Florida Judical Ethics Advisory Committee:
May a judge attend a victory party for a person who was elected, without opposition, to a position such as mayor of the city in which the judge resides?
The inquiring judge is a candidate for reelection and asks whether the specified contemplated conduct is permissible under Canon 7 of the Florida Code of Judicial Conduct. The inquiring judge states that the elected official is a friend and it is possible that more than just people of one particular political party would attend and the victory party is not for one particular group.
Here, although it is possible that the attendees would belong to more than one political organization and the party is not for one particular group, it appears that the party is not a “purely social function,” but a part of the campaign of the judge’s friend as it is a victory party to celebrate a successful candidacy. As the cited Committee opinions indicate, the judge’s “action” in appearing at a “campaign-related event” such as a victory party could give the impression that the judge endorsed the friend’s candidacy for public office. The fact that the candidacy was unopposed does not negate such conclusion as section 105.071(4) prohibits the endorsement of any candidate. Consistent with the reasoning of the above-cited opinions and the standards set forth in Canon 2A and Canon 7A(1)(b), the appearance of impropriety created when the judge attends a celebration for a candidate suggests that the judge should not attend the victory party.
The opinion is linked here. (Mike Frisch)
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