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Code of Judicial Conduct

Canon 6

Revised 05/18/2017

Fiscal Matters of a Judge Shall be Conducted in a Manner That Does Not Give the Appearance of Influence or Impropriety; a Judge Shall Regularly File Public Reports as Required by Article II, Section 8, of the Constitution of Florida, and Shall Publicly Report Gifts; Additional Financial Information Shall be Filed With the Judicial Qualifications Commission to Ensure Full Financial Disclosure

A.      Compensation for Quasi-Judicial and Extrajudicial Services and Reimbursement or Payment of Expenses, and Waiver of Fees or Charges.
A judge may accept compensation, reimbursement, or direct payment of expenses, and a waiver or partial waiver of fees or charges for registration, tuition, and similar items associated with the judge’s participation in quasi-judicial and extrajudicial activities permitted by this Code, if the source of such payments, or waiver does not give the appearance of influencing the judge in the performance of judicial duties or otherwise give the appearance of impropriety, subject to the following restrictions:
(1)     Compensation. Compensation shall not exceed a reasonable amount nor shall it exceed what a person who is not a judge would receive for the same activity. Compensation is reportable as income under Canon 6B(1).
(2)     Honoraria and Speaking Fees. A judge may accept honoraria and speaking fees that are reasonable and commensurate with the task performed. Honoraria and speaking fees are reportable as income under Canon 6B(1).
(3)     Reimbursement or Payment of Expenses, and Waiver of Fees or Charges. Expense reimbursement shall be limited to the actual cost of travel, food, and lodging reasonably incurred by the judge and, where appropriate to the occasion, to the judge’s spouse. Any payment in excess of such an amount is compensation and is reportable as income under Canon 6B(1). Reimbursement or direct payment of expenses, and waiver or partial waiver of fees or charges for the judge or the judge’s spouse or guest, the amount of which alone or in the aggregate with other reimbursements, payments, or waivers received from the same source in the same calendar year exceeds $100, shall be reported under Canon 6B(2).
B.       Public Financial Reporting.
(1)     Income and Assets. A judge shall file such public report as may be required by law for all public officials to comply fully with the provisions of Article II, Section 8, of the Constitution of Florida . The form for public financial disclosure shall be that recommended or adopted by the Florida Commission on Ethics for use by all public officials. The form shall be filed with the Florida Commission on Ethics on the date prescribed by law, and a copy shall be filed simultaneously with the Judicial Qualifications Commission.
(2)     Gifts, Reimbursements or Payments of Expenses, and Waivers of Fees or Charges. A judge shall file a public report of all gifts required to be disclosed under Canons 5D(5)(a) and 5D(5)(h) of the Code of Judicial Conduct, and of all reimbursements or direct payments of expenses, and waivers of fees or charges required to be disclosed under Canon 6A(3). The report of gifts, expense reimbursements or direct payments, and waivers received in the preceding calendar year shall be filed with the Florida Commission on Ethics on or before July 1 of each year. Disclosure shall be made using Form 6A in the commentary below. A copy shall be filed simultaneously with the Judicial Qualifications Commission.
(3)     Disclosure of Financial Interests Upon Leaving Office. A judge shall file a final disclosure statement within 60 days after leaving office, which report shall cover the period between January 1 of the year in which the judge leaves office and his or her last day of office, unless, within the 60-day period, the judge takes another public position requiring financial disclosure under Article II, Section 8, of the Constitution of Florida , or is otherwise required to file full and public disclosure for the final disclosure period. The form for disclosure of financial interests upon leaving office shall be that recommended or adopted by the Florida Commission on Ethics for use by all public officials. The form shall be filed with the Florida Commission on Ethics and a copy shall be filed simultaneously with the Judicial Qualifications Commission.
C.      Confidential Financial Reporting to the Judicial Qualifications Commission.
To ensure that complete financial information is available for all judicial officers, there shall be filed with the Judicial Qualifications Commission on or before July 1 of each year, if not already included in the public report to be filed under Canon 6B(1) and (2), a verified list of the names of the corporations and other business entities in which the judge has a financial interest as of December 31 of the preceding year, which shall be transmitted in a separate sealed envelope, placed by the Commission in safekeeping, and not be opened or the contents thereof disclosed except in the manner hereinafter provided.
At any time during or after the pendency of a cause, any party may request information as to whether the most recent list filed by the judge or judges before whom the cause is or was pending contains the name of any specific person or corporation or other business entity which is a party to the cause or which has a substantial direct or indirect financial interest in its outcome. Neither the making of the request nor the contents thereof shall be revealed by the chair to any judge or other person except at the instance of the individual making the request. If the request meets the requirements hereinabove set forth, the chair shall render a prompt answer thereto and thereupon return the report to safekeeping for retention in accordance with the provisions hereinabove stated. All such requests shall be verified and transmitted to the chair of the Commission on forms to be approved by it.
D.      Limitation of Disclosure.
Disclosure of a judge’s income, debts, investments or other assets is required only to the extent provided in this Canon and in Sections 3E and 3F, or as otherwise required by law.
[Amended Jan. 10, 2002 (816 So. 2d 1084 ); May 18, 2017, effective Jan. 1, 2017 (__ So. 3d __).]

COMMENTARY

Canon 6A. See Section 5D(5)(a)–(h) regarding reporting of gifts, bequests and loans.

The Code does not prohibit a judge from accepting honoraria or speaking fees provided that the compensation is reasonable and commensurate with the task performed. A judge should ensure, however, that no conflicts are created by the arrangement. Judges must not appear to trade on the judicial position for personal advantage. Nor should a judge spend significant time away from court duties to meet speaking or writing commitments for compensation. In addition, the source of the payment must not raise any question of undue influence or the judge’s ability or willingness to be impartial.

The reporting requirement for expense reimbursements and payments, and waivers of fees or charges is similar to the reporting requirement for expense reimbursements and waivers in Rule 3.15(A)(3) of the American Bar Association Model Code of Judicial Conduct (2011), in that reimbursements, payments, and waivers must be reported if the amount of reimbursement, payment, or waiver, alone or in the aggregate with other reimbursements, payments, or waivers received from the same source in the same calendar year, exceeds the specified amount of $100. However, unlike the model rule, the amount of a reportable reimbursement, payment, or waiver does not have to be reported on Form 6A, but the dates, location, and purpose of the event or activity for which expenses, fees, or charges were reimbursed, paid, or waived must be reported.

Canons 6B and 6C. Subparagraph A prescribes guidelines for additional compensation, reimbursements, or direct payments of expenses, and waivers of fees or charges accepted by a judge.
Subparagraphs B and C prescribe the three types of financial disclosure reports required of each judicial officer. The filing of the disclosure reports required under Canon 6B is the only public disclosure of financial interests, compensation, gifts, expense reimbursements, or other benefits that a judge is required to make under this Code or the Florida Constitution. By filing the required disclosure reports, a judge fulfills all the expectations of conduct, and ethical and constitutional requirements related to such disclosure.

The first disclosure report is the Ethics Commission’s constitutionally required form pursuant to Article II, Section 8, of the Constitution . It must be filed each year as prescribed by law. The financial reporting period is for the previous calendar year. A final disclosure statement generally is required when a judge leaves office. The filing of the income tax return is a permissible alternative.

The second is a report of gifts, reimbursements or direct payments of expenses, and waivers of fees or charges accepted during the preceding calendar year to be filed publicly with the Florida Commission on Ethics. The gifts to be reported are in accordance with Canons 5D(5)(a) and 5D(5)(h). The expense reimbursements and payments, and waivers to be reported are in accordance with Canon 6A(3). This reporting is in lieu of that prescribed by statute as stated in the Supreme Court’s opinion rendered in In re Code of Judicial Conduct, 281 So.2d 21 (Fla.1973) . The form for this report is as follows:

Form 6A. Disclosure of Gifts, Expense Reimbursements or Payments, and Waivers of Fees and Charges

All judicial officers must file with the Florida Commission on Ethics a list of all reportable gifts, reimbursements or direct payments of expenses, and waivers of fees or charges accepted during the preceding calendar year as provided in Canons 5D(5)(a) and 5D(5)(h), Canon 6A(3), and Canon 6B(2) of the Code of Judicial Conduct, by date received, description (including dates, location, and purpose of event or activity for which expenses, fees, or charges were reimbursed, paid, or waived), source’s name, and amount for gifts only.

Name:                                                 
Work Telephone:                                
Work Address:                                   
Judicial Office Held:                           
1.       Please identify all reportable gifts you received during the preceding calendar year, as required by Canons 5D(5)(a), 5D(5)(h), and 6B(2) of the Code of Judicial Conduct.


DATE

DESCRIPTION

SOURCE

AMOUNT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 □ Check here if continued on separate sheet
2.       Please identify all reportable reimbursements or direct payments of expenses, and waivers of fees or charges you received during the preceding calendar year, as required by Canons 6A(3) and 6B(2) of the Code of Judicial Conduct.


DATE

DESCRIPTION
(Include dates, location, and purpose of event or activity for which expenses, fees, or charges were reimbursed, paid, or waived)

SOURCE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 □ Check here if continued on separate sheet
OATH
State of Florida
County of                       
I,                                      , the public official filing this disclosure statement, being first duly sworn, do depose on oath and say that the facts set forth in the above statement are true, correct, and complete to the best of my knowledge and belief.
                                                                                         
(Signature of Reporting Official)
                                                                                         
(Signature of Officer Authorized to Administer Oaths)
My Commission expires                                .
Sworn to and subscribed before me this
                               day of                                       , 20              .

COMMENTARY [cont’d]
The third financial disclosure report is prescribed in subparagraph C. This provision ensures that there will be complete financial information for all judicial officers available with the Judicial Qualifications Commission by requiring that full disclosure be filed confidentially with the Judicial Qualifications Commission in the event the limited disclosure alternative is selected under the provisions of Article II, Section 8.

The amendment to this Canon requires in 6B(2) a separate gift report to be filed with the Florida Commission on Ethics on or before July 1 of each year. The form to be used for that report is included in the commentary to Canon 6. It should be noted that Canon 5, as it presently exists, restricts and prohibits the acceptance of certain gifts. This provision is not applicable to other public officials.

With reference to financial disclosure if the judge chooses the limited disclosure alternative available under the provision of Article II, Section 8, of the Constitution of Florida , without the inclusion of the judge’s Federal Income Tax Return, then the judge must file with the Commission a list of the names of corporations or other business entities in which the judge has a financial interest even though the amount is less than $1,000. This information remains confidential until a request is made by a party to a cause before the judge. This latter provision continues to ensure that complete financial information for all judicial officers is available with the Judicial Qualifications Commission and that parties who are concerned about a judge’s possible financial interest have a means of obtaining that information as it pertains to a particular cause before the judge.

Canon 6D. Section 3E requires a judge to disqualify himself or herself in any proceeding in which the judge has an economic interest. See “economic interest” as explained in the Definitions Section. Canon 5D requires a judge to refrain from engaging in business and from financial activities that might interfere with the impartial performance of judicial duties; Section 6B requires a judge to report all compensation the judge received for activities outside judicial office. A judge has the rights of any other citizen, including the right to privacy of the judge’s financial affairs, except to the extent that limitations established by law are required to safeguard the proper performance of the judge’s duties.

[Commentary amended Jan. 10, 2002 (816 So. 2d 1084); May 18, 2017, effective Jan. 1, 2017 (__ So. 3d __).]

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