The Florida Bar

Ethics Opinion

Opinion 73-31

October 22, 1973
Advisory ethics opinions are not binding.
A former judge now in active practice as an attorney may not use a nameplate “Judge . . .” on his
door or on his desk. However, he may display documents and memorabilia of his former office
so long as their display or use does not suggest he is presently a judge or should be addressed by
that title. If he is addressed as “Judge . . .” by clients, friends, and acquaintances, he does not
have to forbid them to do so.
Note: Judicial conduct is governed by the Code of Judicial Conduct. The Judicial Ethics
Committee issues opinions interpreting this Code.

70-63, 73-27; ABA Informal 1006

Vice Chairman Sullivan stated the opinion of the committee:
A member of The Florida Bar now in active practice served as a part-time
municipal judge from 1967 to 1971. During that time, he was awarded certificates
of merit from various civic organizations and a certificate of appointment from
the municipality, all of which identify him as “Judge . . . .” He also received a
photograph of himself with a nameplate reading “Judge . . .,” taken while he was
presiding in court. He advises that clients, friends and acquaintances have
voluntarily addressed him as “Judge” since he left the bench.
He has inquired whether he may properly:
1. Use a nameplate reading “Judge . . .” on his private, not his outside, office
2. Display a nameplate reading “Judge . . .” on his desk.
3. Display on his office walls the various certificates of commendation and
appointment and the photograph.
The first and second questions are answered in the negative, the third in the affirmative.
We are governed by Opinions 70-63 [since withdrawn] and 73-27. ABA Informal
Opinion 1006 also deals with the first question. In Opinion 70-63 [since withdrawn] this
Committee said that a former judicial officer should never personally use the courtesy title
“Judge” in his law practice. In other words, he should not do anything to designate himself as
“Judge,” although he does not have to forbid others from calling him “Judge” if they want to.
A former judge may properly preserve and display documents and memorabilia bearing
the title “Judge” which were prepared at the time he was a judge and which indicate that he did
hold a judicial office, but he should not display or use them in a way that suggests he is presently

a judge or that he should be addressed by that title. The inquiry does not indicate whether the
attorney acquired the door and desk nameplates while he was a judge or afterwards. In either
event, the answer is the same.