Monday, October 21, 2013

Cooking Judge Does Not Run Afoul Of Ethics Rules

A recent opinion from the Florida Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee:


May a  judge participate in a local cook-off competition being held at a Jamaican Jerk  Festival which does not serve a fundraising purpose and the winners of which  will receive a cash award and trophy? 



The inquiring  judge states is considering competing in a  cook-off held during the 12th Annual Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival as  a means of community outreach and levity.   The cook-off affords chefs of all distinctions an opportunity to put  their culinary skills to the test.  The  goal of the cook-off is to promote the flavors of Jamaica through the Culinary  Arts, and to demonstrate the extraordinary talents and creativity of the  participating individual.  There is no  indication from the inquiring judge that the cook-off serves a fund-raising  purpose. 


Because the contemplated cook-off  does not appear to be a fundraiser and because participation in the cook-off  would not appear to exploit the judge’s judicial position or involve the  inquiring judge in frequent transactions or continuing business relationships  with persons likely to come before the court on which the judge serves, the  inquiring judge would be permitted to participate in the cook-off competition. However,  the judge is cautioned to investigate or verify that the event is not a  fund-raiser. As has been previously opined by this committee, if the event is a  fund-raiser and the judge’s participation will be advertised or be used in a  manner that would lend the prestige of the office for the advancement of the  private interests of others, the judge would not be allowed to participate. See  JEAC Opinions 2012-36; 2011-14; and 2010-15. Canons 5C(3)(b)(iii) and 2B.

The committee would also like to take this opportunity  to reiterate the well-reasoned commentary associated with Canon 5A which  provides “[c]omplete separation of a judge from extra-judicial activities is  neither possible nor wise; a judge should not become isolated from the  community in which the judge lives.”

Information about the festival is linked here. (Mike Frisch)

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