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Judicial Campaign Conduct Forums are set for May 2 and 3

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VoteWhen it comes to elections, campaigns for judicial office are never “politics as usual.” All candidates for judgeships must comply with the requirements of Canon 7 of Florida’s Code of Judicial Conduct. These rules specifically govern judicial candidates and are the strictest standards imposed in any election.

“The judicial system cannot function effectively without public confidence in the integrity, independence, and impartiality of the individuals who serve as judges,” said Judge Matthew Lucas, chair of the Supreme Court of Florida’s Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee, which is organizing the forums in conjunction with The Florida Bar Board of Governors. Noting that campaign misconduct can undermine that confidence and impair the judicial branch’s ability to carry out its responsibilities, Judge Lucas emphasized that “all candidates for judicial office must be familiar with the rules governing judicial elections and avoid any abuse of the elections process.”

The standards governing judicial elections will be explained to candidates, campaign managers, staff, the news media, and others in public forums designed to raise awareness regarding the requirements of Canon 7. The forums are scheduled for Thursday and Friday, May 2 and 3, in five cities throughout the state, each drawing additional participation from one or more adjacent circuits. Candidates unable to be present will have the opportunity to participate at a statewide webinar on May 3. All of the forums will begin at 1 p.m. Eastern Time.

Members of the Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee will provide a summary review of Canon 7, give examples of conduct that may violate the Code, call attention to online resources, and further impress upon candidates, campaign staff, and others in the community the seriousness with which the Supreme Court views any abuse of the elections process.

The Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee is charged with rendering advisory opinions interpreting the application of the Code of Judicial Conduct to specific circumstances confronting or affecting judges and judicial candidates.  An online version of the Committee’s Canon 7 booklet may be accessed on the Supreme Court’s website at https://supremecourt.flcourts.gov/Opinions/Judicial-Ethics-Advisory-Committee.

All judicial candidates seeking contested seats or facing active opposition for merit retention are encouraged to attend one of the forums. All forums are open to the public. Electronic registration for the May 3 webinar is located at: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJAsd-CvpzojGdTlgwi8vpoybVzAHNZxYCr1. After registering, attendees will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. Any inquiries regarding the forums can be directed to Melissa Hamilton at [email protected].

Persons with disabilities who need an accommodation to participate in the campaign conduct forums should contact Kabria Mullins, 500 South Duval Street, Tallahassee 32399, 850-922-5109, [email protected] as far in advance of the forums as possible. Persons using a TDD may contact through the Florida Relay Service, 711.

LOCATIONS

• Jacksonville, May 2, Duval County Courthouse, Chief Judges’ Chambers – Room 7139, 501 W. Adams Street.

• Tallahassee, May 2, Leon County Courthouse, 301 South Monroe Street.

• Ft. Lauderdale, May 3, Broward County Judicial Complex, Courtroom 17-150, 201 SE Sixth Street.

• Orlando, May 3, Orange County Courthouse, 425 North Orange Avenue, Suite 2310 (Gene Medina Conference Room)

• Tampa, May 3, George Edgecomb County Courthouse, 800 East Twiggs Street, Judicial Conference Room – Sixth Floor.

• Zoom, Statewide.

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