Code of Judicial Conduct
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 of Expenses.A judge may receive compensation and reimbursement of expenses for the quasi-judicial and extrajudicial activities permitted by this Code, if the source of such payments 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.
(2) Expense Reimbursement. 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.
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. A judge shall file a public report of all gifts which are required to be disclosed under Canon 5D(5)(h) of the Code of Judicial Conduct. The report of gifts received in the preceding calendar year shall be filed with the Florida Commission on Ethics on or before July 1 of each year. 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.
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.
Canon 6C. Subparagraph A prescribes guidelines for additional compensation and the reimbursement of expense funds received by a judge.
Subparagraphs B and C prescribe the three types of financial disclosure reports required of each judicial officer.
The first 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 received during the preceding calendar year to be filed publicly with the Florida Commission on Ethics. The gifts to be reported are in accordance with Canon 5D(5)(h). 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. Gift Disclosure
All judicial officers must file with the Florida Commission on Ethics a list of all gifts received during the preceding calendar year of a value in excess of $100.00 as provided in Canon 5D(5) and Canon 6B(2) of the Code of Judicial Conduct.
State of Florida
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.
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 receipt 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. Section 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.