Judicial Ethics Campaign Forum Playing by the Rules...
Learning Objectives 1. Identify limitations imposed by Florida’s Code of Judicial Conduct upon candidates for judicial office. 2. Explain the role of the Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee, the purpose of local judicial campaign conduct forums, and the process by which candidates may secure expedited opinions from the JEAC. 3. Describe possible consequences of campaign misconduct. As a result of this session, you should be able to:
Your Responsibilities Compliance with Florida’s Code of Judicial Conduct. Compliance with Florida Statutes. YOUR These are YOUR responsibilities.
Candidates: Do not rely on your campaign managers or others to know and comply with the Florida Code of Judicial Conduct and the Election Code, Chapters 97-106, Florida Statutes.
Is It Ethical? Would you do it in front of your mother? Will the conduct promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary? Will it hurt or harm your reputation? The Common Sense Approach:
Is It Ethical? Is it the kind of story you want to see on the front page of your local paper? Does the reporter for the six o’clock news really care which is your “good side”? Some Questions You May Also Want To Ask Yourself:
Are Ethics Important? To be ethical, you have to be willing to lose. Otherwise, you will do whatever it takes to win.
The “Doctrine of Relative Filth” “I’m not so bad as long as there are people who are worse.” Subtitled: “Don’t look at me!!! Look at them!”
The Code of Judicial Conduct Canon 7 A Judge or Candidate for Judicial Office Shall Refrain from Inappropriate Political Activity.
Canon 7 High Points A judicial candidate shall: Maintain the dignity appropriate to judicial office. Act in a manner consistent with the integrity and independence of the judiciary. Encourage family members to avoid –and prohibit employees and officials subject to the candidate’s direction or control from-- doing on behalf of the candidate what he or she may not do personally.
Canon 7 High Points With respect to parties or classes of parties, cases, controversies, or issues that are likely to come before the court, make pledges, promises, or commitments that are inconsistent with the impartial performance of the adjudicative duties of the office. The judicial candidate shall not:
Canon 7 High Points While a proceeding is pending or impending in any court, make any public comment that might reasonably be expected to affect its outcome or impair its fairness or make any nonpublic comment that might substantially interfere with a fair trial or hearing; The judicial candidate shall not:
Canon 7 High Points Knowingly misrepresent the identity, qualifications, present position or other fact concerning the candidate or an opponent. The judicial candidate shall not:
Canon 7 High Points The judicial candidate shall not attend a political party function unless: The candidate speaks at the function on behalf of his or her candidacy; OR The candidate speaks at the function on a matter that relates to the law, improvement of the legal system, or the administration of justice; AND The candidate’s invitation to the function includes the other candidates, if any, for that office; AND The function is not a fund-raiser.
So I Violated the Code? No Big Deal. Right? Think again…
Consequences 1. Removal 2. Fine 3. Reprimand 4. Suspension
What Happens If You Violate the Code of Judicial Conduct? You will probably find yourself in the news.
What Happens If You Violate the Code? personal invitation You will get a personal invitation to meet (at your own expense) with members of the Judicial Qualifications Commission at the Tampa International Airport.
What Happens If You Violate the Code? personalized copy If you’ve made an impression, you will get your own personalized copy of their … Formal Charges “ Formal Charges.”
The Evidence… Statement of Candidate For Judicial Office I, (insert your name here), the judicial candidate, have received, have read, and understand the requirements of the Florida Code of Judicial Conduct. Your name here. May 2, 2014. J.Q.C. Exhibit “A”
What Happens If You Violate the Code? You will get to fly all the way to Tallahassee (at your own expense) to meet the Justices of the Florida Supreme Court.
What Happens If I Violate the Code? You will finally get “published….” And just maybe, get yourself known “nationally.”
What Happens If I Violate the Code? Possible Florida Bar Recommended Consequences: Admonishment. Probation. Public Reprimand. Suspension. Disbarment. Possible Florida Supreme Court Consequences: Appropriate Discipline. Suspension. Removal from the bench. Fines, such as in Judge Rodriguez’s case ($40,000) or Judge Kinsey’s case ($50,000) and costs.
You Will Have Nothing To Show For a Violation, Except: A major headache. Embarrassment. Loss of reputation. Loss of self-esteem. Loss of support. Loss of career. A lot of wasted time and money. 0
Nothing Really Happens, Does It? Inquiry Concerning A Judge...
In re Alley Among the findings: Injected partisan politics into the race (said her opponent had been appointed to office by Democratic Gov. Lawton Chiles). Implied she had been endorsed by the newspaper (she was not). Claimed “judicial experience” (had been a general master, not a judge).
In re McMillan Can you imagine a judge who would... promise to go to bat for law enforcement? elicit support by declaring law enforcement had an opportunity to “support a fellow police officer who has been there...”? tell voters he would "always have the heart of a prosecutor”?
Judge McMillan removed for "cumulative misconduct." Here is what the Florida Supreme Court wrote: “Significantly, Judge McMillan’s campaign occurred well after the issuance of our opinion in In Re Alley. There is simply no explanation in the record of why the lessons of In Re Alley were totally ignored. * * *
To allow someone who has committed such misconduct during a campaign to attain office to then serve the term of the judgeship obtained by such means clearly sends the wrong message to future candidates; that is, the end justifies the means and, thus, all is fair so long as the candidate wins. Accordingly, for the reasons expressed, Matthew E. McMillan is hereby removed as a judge of the County Court of Manatee County, effective upon this opinion becoming final.”
In re Rodriguez Violations: Improper campaign finance activities and reporting practices.
Discipline: Suspended without pay from her duties as a circuit judge Ordered to pay a $40,000 fine Publicly reprimanded
In re Kinsey The Florida Supreme Court agreed with the JQC, finding Judge Kinsey was “guilty of serious campaign violations that warrant a severe penalty.”
campaign statements that a judge should “help law enforcement by putting criminals where they belong – behind bars” and that she would “bend over backwards” to protect victims. a campaign brochure showing a full-page picture of the judge standing with ten heavily armed police officers and caption “Who do these guys count on to back them up?” The campaign violations included:
a campaign brochure stating, “Above all else, Pat Kinsey identifies with the victims of crime.” a campaign flyer stating, “Pat Kinsey will support our valiant law enforcement officers…not make their job harder.” Additionally
The Florida Supreme Court found these kinds of pledges and statements by a judicial candidate were not protected by the First Amendment.
The Court agreed with the JQC’s recommendation as to discipline and found a substantial fine was warranted “in order to assure the public that justice is dispensed in a fair and unbiased manner and to warn any future judicial candidates that this Court will not tolerate improper campaign statements which imply that, if elected, the judicial candidate will favor one group of citizens over another or will make rulings based upon the sway of popular sentiment in the community.”
Discipline: A fine of $50,000, plus costs A public reprimand
In re Angel Public reprimand ordered for judge engaging in a pattern of improper conduct, namely participating in prohibited partisan political activity.
Acknowledging multiple violations of section 105.071(1), Florida Statutes, and the Code of Judicial Conduct, Judge Angel admitted he attended and participated in: ● a meeting of the Ocala Republican Women’s Club ● a Democratic Candidate rally ● a meeting of the Republican Club of Sumter County ● a Marion County Republican Party forum ● a partisan political gathering for another candidate
He also admitted: having acquiesced in his wife’s attendance and participation on his behalf in the Lake County Federated Women Republicans’ Meet the Candidates Night having identified himself as a member of a political party
In re Gooding Public reprimand ordered for judge admitting violations of the Florida Election Code and the Code of Judicial Conduct during his 2002 election campaign.
DURING HIS CAMPAIGN Judge Gooding drew upon funds in his campaign account when monies on deposit were insufficient to cover expenditures.
AFTER THE CAMPAIGN Judge Gooding lent his campaign substantial sums of money and deposited the funds in his campaign account after the deadline for doing so had passed.
In re Pando Accepted loans from family members in excess of limits Misrepresented the source of loans Resulting in a public reprimand and $25,000.00 fine
In re Renke Misrepresented his qualifications and those of his opponent Improperly accepted $95,800.00 in violation of state campaign finance laws
The JQC recommended A public reprimand and a $40,000.00 fine Which was rejected by the Supreme Court
Discipline The Supreme Court removed Judge Renke from office and ordered him to pay $8,209.68 in costs for the proceedings.
The Court stated: “Judge Renke and his cohorts created a fictitious candidate, funded his candidacy in violation of Florida’s election laws, and successfully perpetrated a fraud on the electorate in securing the candidate’s election.”
In re Krause Charged by JQC with purchasing a table at a Republican Party fundraiser with funds from her campaign account Improperly accepting funds from her husband in excess of contributions limits
Though the matter is not yet final, the JQC has recommended a public reprimand and a $25,000 fine
How will the JQC know if you violate the Code? The Media SOMEBODY will tell on you! Your Opponent The Judiciary The Bar
Helpful Hints A judicial candidate should emphasize in any public statement the candidate’s duty to uphold the law regardless of personal views. For example, a candidate may state: “My sworn duty as a judge will be to faithfully and impartially uphold the law and that duty may include ordering a person’s execution in an appropriate case. If I am ever presiding over a case in which the death penalty is sought and it is the legally appropriate punishment, I will impose it.” JEAC Opinion 94-26.
Helpful Hints A judicial candidate may state his or her views on constitutional or statutory construction and other controversial issues so long as the judge does not make promises or pledges other than the faithful and impartial performance of duties or make statements which commit or appear to commit the candidate to cases, controversies, issues or parties that are likely to come before the court. JEAC Opinion 02-13. Guidelines for answering questionnaires from political organizations are provided in JEAC Opinion 06-18.
How Can I Avoid Violating the Code of Judicial Conduct? Contact the Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee Judge Roberto Arias, Chair email@example.com 904-255-1318
How Can the Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee Help Me? The JEAC will provide written advisory opinions interpreting the Code of Judicial Conduct. The Florida Supreme Court, in its review of JQC recommendations for discipline, will view compliance with a requested opinion as evidence of good faith.
But Note: The JEAC is not a disciplinary body. The JEAC has no authority to warn candidates they may be violating the Code of Judicial Conduct. The JEAC has the authority to address your prospective conduct, but not that of your opponent. The JEAC does not review campaign materials.
Election Practices Subcommittees The JEAC’s election practices subcommittees expedite responses to candidates’ questions The Honorable Lisa Davidson, Subcommittee Chair Circuit Judge, Eighteenth Judicial Circuit 2825 Judge Fran Jamieson Way Viera, Florida 32940 PHONE: (321) 617-7281 FAX: (321) 617-7292 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Election Practices Subcommittees Subcommittee ASubcommittee B The Hon. Barbara Lagoa, ChairThe Hon. T. Michael Jones, Chair Third District Court of AppealCircuit Judge, First Circuit The Hon. Jack Espinosa, Jr.The Hon. Robert T. Benton II Circuit Judge, Thirteenth CircuitFirst District Court of Appeal The Hon. Jonathan Gerber Patricia Lowry Fourth District Court of AppealAttorney at Law, West Palm Beach
Other Ethics Resources Florida Supreme Court opinions relating to the Code of Judicial Conduct. An Aid to Understanding Canon 7, accessible online at www.floridasupremecourt.org, under Public Information, then Court Documents. Florida Election Code, Chapters 97 - 106, Florida Statutes, particularly Chapter 105 relating to nonpartisan elections.
More Resources Opinions of the Florida Division of Elections. Rules of the Division of Elections setting forth campaign reporting requirements. Some local bar associations have “campaign practices” committees that can give advice or even recommend action. Check with your local bar association.