Monday, October 21, 2013
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)