Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Judge Really Can Referee, Just Like The Chief Justice Said

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:

  1. Extrajudicial  Activities in General.  A  judge shall conduct all of the judge’s extrajudicial activities so that they do  not:
  1. cast  reasonable doubt on the judge’s capacity to act impartially as a judge;
  2. undermine  the judge’s independence, integrity, or impartiality;
  3. demean  the judicial office;
  4. interfere  with the proper performance of judicial duties;
  5. lead  to frequent disqualification of the judge; or
  6. 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)

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