The Florida Bar

February 23, 1962

When lawyers are circulating a petition endorsing an incumbent judge for reelection, there is no impropriety in a lawyer signing such petition and allowing publication of such petition. A lawyer should not sign such a petition out of fear of disfavor if he feels the judge unfit.

Note: Judicial conduct is governed by the Code of Judicial Conduct. The Judicial Ethics Committee issues opinions interpreting this Code.

Canons: 1, 27, Judicial Canon 30
Opinions: ABA 105, 139, 189, 226

Chairman Holcomb stated the opinion of the committee.

A member of The Florida Bar presents a question on the following facts:

He states that he has been requested to sign an endorsement of a judge for re-election, which endorsement contains permission to publish the endorsement with his name, and he asks whether this is ethical.

We believe it has been quite common and customary for such endorsements to be sought and published, and see no reasonable objection thereto. However, we would call attention to the following Judicial and Professional Canons and Opinions:

Under Professional Canon of Ethics No. 2 — The Selection of Judges:

Opinion 189. A lawyer should not, for fear of incurring disfavor, endorse a judge for re-election if he believes him unfit.

Opinion 226. While lawyers may contribute to the campaign funds of judges whose election they honestly favor, such contributions should in every case be reasonable, and preferably made to a campaign committee.

Under Judicial Canon No. 30 — Candidacy for Office, “If a judge becomes a candidate for any judicial office, he should refrain from all conduct which might tend to arouse reasonable suspicion that he is using the power or prestige of his judicial position to promote his candidacy or
the success of his party”:

Opinion 105. Judges seeking re-election or appointment should not solicit the aid of lawyers by letter or otherwise.

Opinion 139. A judge should not use the power or prestige of his office to promote his candidacy for office, by sending out a form letter requesting endorsement.

It is our understanding in this case, lawyers favoring the re-election of the incumbent judge are circulating the petition and that the judge has no connection with its circulation or the solicitation of names. We find no objection to lawyers signing such endorsements and permitting them to be published.

[Revised: 08-24-2011]