All candidates seeking election as judges in 2014 will soon be able to participate in judicial campaign conduct forums that offer training in the rules governing judicial elections.
Sponsored by the Florida Supreme Court and The Florida Bar Board of Governors, the forums are held every election year with support of the state’s trial court chief judges and the court’s Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee. Scheduled Thursday and Friday, May 8 and 9, the week following the close of qualifying, the forums will emphasize the importance of conducting campaigns in compliance with myriad laws and rules governing judicial elections. All judicial candidates seeking contested seats are expected to participate in one or another of several forums in 10 cities across the state.
Chief judges will open the forums with brief remarks underscoring the importance of judicial selection. Representatives of the Board of Governors will speak regarding the Bar’s role in judicial elections and Bar rules applicable to candidates for judicial office.
Members of the Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee will offer a summary review of Canon 7 of Florida’s Code of Judicial Conduct, give examples of activities which may violate the code, and call attention to resources available to all judicial candidates.
The JEAC will further impress upon candidates, campaign staff, and others in the community the seriousness with which the court views any abuse of the elections process.
“The judicial branch cannot function effectively without public respect for the courts and confidence in those who serve as judges,” said JEAC Chair Judge Roberto Arias.
Emphasizing the importance of integrity and professionalism among all candidates for judicial office, Judge Arias noted, “rules governing campaign misconduct are vigorously enforced.”
The Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee renders advisory opinions interpreting the application of the Code of Judicial Conduct to specific circumstances confronting or affecting judges and judicial candidates.
The JEAC’s elections booklet, An Aid to Understanding Canon 7, along with other materials, are available on the Supreme Court’s website at www.floridasupremecourt.org/pub_info/documents.shtml#Judicial.
The committee has requested candidates copy the booklet for personal use and any other materials they may wish to bring with them to the forums.
Campaign managers and staff, voluntary bar association presidents, state and county political party chairs, representatives of the print and broadcast media, as well as members of the general public are welcome to attend.
Persons with disabilities who need an accommodation to participate in the Campaign Conduct Forums should contact: Pam Addison, 500 South Duval Street, Tallahassee 32399-1900, 850-617-1842, [email protected], as far in advance as possible, preferably at least five working days before the date of the forum. Persons using a TDD may contact Addison through the Florida Relay Service, 711.
Here’s a list of the scheduled 1 p.m. meetings:
* Pensacola, May 8, M.C. Blanchard Judicial Building, 190 Governmental Center, Courtroom 101 – Ground Floor.
* Jacksonville, May 8, Duval County Courthouse, 501 W. Adams Street, Chief Judge’s Chambers − Room 7139.
* Tampa, May 8, Geo. Edgecomb County Courthouse, 800 East Twiggs Street, Sixth Floor Judicial Conference Room.
* West Palm Beach, May 8, Main Judicial Complex, 205 North Dixie Highway, First Floor Judicial Conference Room.
* Miami, May 8, Lawson E. Thomas Courthouse Center, 175 NW 1st Avenue, 11th Floor Conference Room.
* Tallahassee, May 9, Leon County Courthouse, 301 South Monroe Street, Courtroom 3G.
* Gainesville, May 9, Alachua County Criminal Justice Center, 220 South Main Street, Jury Assembly Room.
* Orlando, May 9, Orange County Courthouse, 425 North Orange Avenue, 23rd Floor Judicial Conference Room.
* Ft. Myers, May 9, Lee County Justice Center Complex, 1700 Monroe Street, Courtroom 4-A.
* Ft. Lauderdale, May 9, Broward County Judicial Complex, 201 SE 6th Street, Courtroom 416.
Questions regarding the upcoming forums may be directed to Pam Addison with the Office of the State Courts Administrator at 850-617-1842 or [email protected].