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October 15, 2013
Court considers preventing senior judges from serving as mediators

Because of concerns about the “ethical implications” of their dual service, and on its own motion, the Supreme Court is considering amending the Code of Judicial Conduct, the Florida Rules for Certified and Court-appointed Mediators, and various rules of procedure to no longer allow senior judges to serve as mediators.

Since first authorizing senior judges to serve as mediators in 1994, and then reaffirming the practice in 2005, the court said that it has “been mindful of concerns about the priority of such dual service and has continued to monitor the practice. . . . The court is especially concerned about the potential that a senior judge who serves as a paid mediator could be seen as exploiting the judge’s judicial position or lending the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of the judge or a mediation firm with which the judge may associate, or otherwise running afoul of the Code of Judicial Conduct.”

The court invites all interested persons to comment by November 15 on the amendments under consideration, which can be found in full in an official notice here.

The court specifically seeks comments from the conferences of judges, the senior judges, the Supreme Court’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Rules and Policy Committee, the Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee, and the various Florida Bar rules committees, whose bodies of rules are affected by the proposed change.

[Revised: 11-12-2013]