Sunday, April 14, 2019
The Florida Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee opines
Opinion Number: 2019-10
Date of Issue: March 28, 2019
1. May a judge who has become president of a religious organization meet with potential new members to solicit membership?
ANSWER: Yes, as long as the solicitation cannot reasonably be perceived as coercive, is not essentially a fundraising mechanism, and such potential new members or people with whom they are affiliated are not likely ever to appear before the Court for which the judge serves.
2. May the judge solicit direct donations to the religious organization?
ANSWER: No, unless the solicitation is limited to other judges over whom the judge does not exercise supervisory or appellate authority.
3. May the judge sell tickets to the religious organization’s fundraiser?
ANSWER: No, unless the sales are limited to other judges over whom the judge does not exercise supervisory or appellate authority.
4. May the judge thank donors at fundraisers and receptions for major donors?
5. May the judge “urge” members of the religious organization to attend various organizational fundraisers and other functions?
ANSWER: Yes, for “other functions”, no for “fundraisers”. It is permissible for the judge to urge members to attend functions that are not fundraisers, however “urging” members to attend fundraising events may be reasonably perceived as coercive, utilizing the prestige of the judicial office for fundraising purposes.
6. May the judge announce to the members of the religious organization various upcoming events, including fundraisers occurring at the location of the organization.