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Florida judges may participate in oral arguments

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OSCA logoJudges may participate in oral argument before the Florida Supreme Court concerning proposed rule changes.

Acting September 1 in Opinion No. 2023-08, the advisory panel was responding to an inquiry by a judge who sits as a member of a Florida Bar committee tasked with considering potential amendments to the various procedural rules that are applicable in judicial proceedings.

In this case, one of the proposed amendments is scheduled for oral argument and the judge was asked to participate in the argument on behalf of the rules committee.

In Fla. JEAC Op. 2019-04, an inquiring judge asked whether the judge could comment on a proposed amendment to a rule. In that opinion the court held they could because Florida Rule of General Practice and Judicial Administration 2.140(b)(6) allows any person to file a comment; Rule 2.140(a)(4) allows judges to sit on the various rules committees; and Canon 4B of the Florida Rules of Judicial Conduct encourages judges to participate in the activities concerning the law.

“We do not view the act of presenting oral argument in a rules proceeding to be any different than filing a public comment,” the court said. “So, based on our opinion in Fla. JEAC Op. 2019-04, we conclude the inquiring judge may participate in the scheduled oral argument.”

The Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee is charged with rendering advisory opinions to judges and judicial candidates on the application of the Code of Judicial Conduct to their circumstances. While judges and candidates may cite the opinion as evidence of good faith, the opinions are not binding on the Judicial Qualifications Commission.

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