Wednesday, May 1, 2013
As we had hoped, the anxiously-awaited answer to the question whether a judge may also referee college football is "Yes."
The Florida Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee opines:
Code of Judicial Conduct Canon 3A provides that the judicial duties of a judge shall take precedence over all of the judge’s other activities. Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.215(b)(4) requires all judges to inform the chief judge of any contemplated absences that would affect the progress of the court’s business. Therefore, the judge is advised to discuss this activity with the chief judge and schedule this activity in such a manner that would not conflict with judicial activities.
Canon 5B addresses avocational activities of a judge and encourages a judge to “participate in extrajudicial activities concerning non-legal subjects, subject to the requirements of the Code.” (emphasis added).Canon 5A sets forth the requirements of the Code as they pertain to extrajudicial activities:
- Extrajudicial Activities in General. A judge shall conduct all of the judge’s extrajudicial activities so that they do not:
- cast reasonable doubt on the judge’s capacity to act impartially as a judge;
- undermine the judge’s independence, integrity, or impartiality;
- demean the judicial office;
- interfere with the proper performance of judicial duties;
- lead to frequent disqualification of the judge; or
- appear to a reasonable person to be coercive.
Likewise, Canon 2 generally prohibits any activity involving impropriety or the appearance of impropriety, and Canon 2B specifically prohibits an activity that involves the misuse of the prestige of judicial office. Serving as a part-time college football referee does not appear to reflect adversely on impartiality, demean judicial office, or interfere with the proper performance of judicial activities.
Finally, Canon 6A states that a judge may receive compensation and reimbursement of expenses for an extrajudicial activity if the source of the payments does not give the appearance of influencing the judge in the performance of judicial duties or otherwise give the appearance of impropriety. This compensation must be reasonable, cannot exceed what a person who is not a judge would receive for the same activity, and the expenses must cover the actual costs of expenses reasonably incurred, or otherwise should be reported as compensation. The inquiring judge is further advised to make a proper financial disclosure of this income pursuant to the reporting requirements of Canon 6B
Time to kick off. (Mike Frisch)