Friday, December 7, 2018
The Florida Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee opines on college admissions issues
1. May a judge serve as a member of a committee tasked with interviewing applicants who seek admission to the judge’s alma mater?
2. May the judge provide his impression of the applicant?
3. May the judge recommend the student for admission?
ANSWER: Yes, as long as the judge’s title is not mentioned in or as a part of the recommendation.
The inquiring judge is a graduate of a prestigious university. The judge has been asked to conduct interviews of high school seniors who are applying for admission to the university. Upon completion of the interview process, the judge will be asked to complete an interview form detailing the judge’s thoughts on how the interview went, the judge’s impression of the student, and whether the judge would recommend the student for admission to the university.
Absent from the inquiry is whether the judge has been requested to participate in the interviews because the judge is an alumnus, a judge or because the judge is an alumnus who is a judge. If the judge’s title need not and will not adorn the judge’s report of the interview or the recommendation that will accompany the report, there is no impediment whatsoever to the judge offering an impression of the applicant, the interview and advising on whether the applicant is worthy of admission. However, if the judge’s title will be included in the interview report we suggest that the judge not make any recommendation regarding admission to the university. We do not believe that a single interview of whatever length is adequate to serve as the “personal knowledge” contemplated by the canons and necessary to offer any type of recommendation by a member of the judiciary.