December 20, 2012
No Host, No Show
A recent opinion from the Florida Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee:
Whether the inquiring judge may attend a religious organization’s fundraising dinner, after the organization mailed invitations listing the inquiring judge as one of several “hosts” without notifying the judge before the mailing?
The inquiring judge and the judge’s spouse have attended a religious organization’s gala dinner over the years. The gala dinner serves a fundraising purpose for restoring, preserving and supporting the religious organization’s continued success. The inquiring judge’s spouse purchased an eight-person table for a considerable amount of money before the invitations went out. The invitations which were mailed by the gala planning committee, of which the inquiring judge is not a member, clearly were soliciting funds. Included with the invitation was a list of ten donors labeled as “hosts.” The inquiring judge was listed as one of the “hosts” with an abbreviated designation of title for Honorable (“Hon.”), along with the inquiring judge’s spouse’s name. Neither the inquiring judge nor the judge’s spouse authorized the committee to send the invitations including the inquiring judge’s name.
The inquiring judge quickly notified the committee of the mistake. The inquiring judge directed the committee to discontinue using the judge’s name in any further mailings for solicitation of funds.
The inquiring judge asks if the Code of Judicial Conduct would prohibit the judge’s attendance at the gala dinner given the invitation’s listing of the judge as one of the “hosts.
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