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(1) A judge shall not engage in financial and business dealings that
(a) may reasonably be perceived to exploit the judge’s judicial position, or
(b) involve the judge in frequent transactions or continuing business relationships with those lawyers or other persons likely to come before the court on which the judge serves.
(2) A judge may, subject to the requirements of this Code, hold and manage investments of the judge and members of the judge’s family, including real estate, and engage in other remunerative activity.
(3) A judge shall not serve as an officer, director, manager, general partner, advisor or employee of any business entity except that a judge may, subject to the requirements of this Code, manage and participate in:
(a) a business closely held by the judge or members of the judge’s family, or
(b) a business entity primarily engaged in investment of the financial resources of the judge or members of the judge’s family.
(4) A judge shall manage the judge’s investments and other financial interests to minimize the number of cases in which the judge is disqualified. As soon as the judge can do so without serious financial detriment, the judge shall divest himself or herself of investments and other financial interests that might require frequent disqualification.
(5) A judge shall not accept, and shall urge members of the judge’s family residing in the judge’s household not to accept, a gift, bequest, favor or loan from anyone except for:
(a) a gift incident to a public testimonial, books, tapes and other resource materials supplied by publishers on a complimentary basis for official use, or an invitation to the judge and the judge’s spouse or guest to attend a bar-related function or an activity devoted to the improvement of the law, the legal system or the administration of justice, including attending, without charge, a bar-related lunch, dinner, or social event; and if the value of attending an individual function or event exceeds $100, the judge shall report it under Canon 6B(2);
(b) a gift, award or benefit incident to the business, profession or other separate activity of a spouse or other family member of a judge residing in the judge’s household, including gifts, awards and benefits for the use of both the spouse or other family member and the judge (as spouse or family member), provided the gift, award or benefit could not reasonably be perceived as intended to influence the judge in the performance of judicial duties;
(c) ordinary social hospitality;
(d) a gift from a relative or friend, for a special occasion, such as a wedding, anniversary or birthday, if the gift is fairly commensurate with the occasion and the relationship;
(e) a gift, bequest, favor or loan from a relative or close personal friend whose appearance or interest in a case would in any event require disqualification under Canon 3E;
(f) a loan from a lending institution in its regular course of business on the same terms generally available to persons who are not judges;
(g) a scholarship or fellowship awarded on the same terms and based on the same criteria applied to other applicants; or
(h) any other gift, bequest, favor or loan, only if the donor is not a party or other person who has come or is likely to come or whose interests have come or are likely to come before the judge; and, if its value, or the aggregate value in a calendar year of such gifts, bequests, favors, or loans from a single source, exceeds $100.00, the judge reports it in the same manner as the judge reports gifts under Canon 6B(2)
([Amended Jan. 10, 2002 (816 So. 2d 1084); Feb. 20, 2003 (840 So. 2d 1023); Nov. 3, 2005, effective Jan. 1, 2006 (915 So. 2d 145); May 22, 2008 (983 So. 2d 550); June 19, 2014 (141 So. 3d 1172); July 7, 2016, effective Oct. 1, 2016 (194 So. 3d 1015) ; May 18, 2017, effective Jan. 1, 2017 (218 So. 3d 432).])
Canon 5D(1). When a judge acquires in a judicial capacity information, such as material contained in filings with the court, that is not yet generally known, the judge must not use the information for private gain. See Canon 2B; see also Canon 3B(11).
A judge must avoid financial and business dealings that involve the judge in frequent transactions or continuing business relationships with persons likely to come either before the judge personally or before other judges on the judge’s court. In addition, a judge should discourage members of the judge’s family from engaging in dealings that would reasonably appear to exploit the judge’s judicial position. This rule is necessary to avoid creating an appearance of exploitation of office or favoritism and to minimize the potential for disqualification. With respect to affiliation of relatives of the judge with law firms appearing before the judge, see Commentary to Canon 3E(1) relating to disqualification.
Participation by a judge in financial and business dealings is subject to the general prohibitions in Canon 5A against activities that tend to reflect adversely on impartiality, demean the judicial office, or interfere with the proper performance of judicial duties. Such participation is also subject to the general prohibition in Canon 2 against activities involving impropriety or the appearance of impropriety and the prohibition in Canon 2B against the misuse of the prestige of judicial office. In addition, a judge must maintain high standards of conduct in all of the judge’s activities, as set forth in Canon 1. See Commentary for Canon 5B. regarding use of the phrase “subject to the requirements of this Code.”
Canon 5D(2). This Canon provides that, subject to the requirements of this Code, a judge may hold and manage investments owned solely by the judge, investments owned solely by a member or members of the judge’s family, and investments owned jointly by the judge and members of the judge’s family.
Canon 5D(3). Subject to the requirements of this Code, a judge may participate in a business that is closely held either by the judge alone, by members of the judge’s family, or by the judge and members of the judge’s family.
Although participation by a judge in a closely-held family business might otherwise be permitted by Canon 5D(3), a judge may be prohibited from participation by other provisions of this Code when, for example, the business entity frequently appears before the judge’s court or the participation requires significant time away from judicial duties. Similarly, a judge must avoid participating in a closely-held family business if the judge’s participation would involve misuse of the prestige of judicial office.
Canon 5D(5). Canon 5D(5) does not apply to contributions to a judge’s campaign for judicial office, a matter governed by Canon 7.
Because a gift, bequest, favor or loan to a member of the judge’s family residing in the judge’s household might be viewed as intended to influence the judge, a judge must inform those family members of the relevant ethical constraints upon the judge in this regard and discourage those family members from violating them. A judge cannot, however, reasonably be expected to know or control all of the financial or business activities of all family members residing in the judge’s household.
Canon 5D(5)(a). Acceptance of an invitation to a law-related function is governed by Canon 5D(5)(a); acceptance of an invitation paid for by an individual lawyer or group of lawyers is governed by Canon 5D(5)(h).
The attendance, without charge, of a bar-related lunch, dinner, or social event such as a reception or Law Day event does not have to be reported under Canon 6B(2), as long as the actual value of attending the individual function or event does not exceed $100, despite the fact that the aggregate value of attending such functions or events given by the same bar association or other entity in the same calendar year exceeds $100. This differs from Rule 3.15 of the American Bar Association Model Code of Judicial Conduct (2011), which requires the reporting of such attendance if the value of attending such functions or events alone or in the aggregate from the same source in the same calendar year exceeds a specified amount.
A judge may accept a public testimonial or a gift incident thereto only if the donor organization is not an organization whose members comprise or frequently represent the same side in litigation, and the testimonial and gift are otherwise in compliance with other provisions of this Code. See Canons 5A(1) and 2B.
Canon 5D(5)(d). A gift to a judge, or to a member of the judge’s family living in the judge’s household, that is excessive in value raises questions about the judge’s impartiality and the integrity of the judicial office and might require disqualification of the judge where disqualification would not otherwise be required. See, however, Canon 5D(5)(e).
Canon 5D(5)(h). Canon 5D(5)(h) prohibits judges from accepting gifts, favors, bequests or loans from lawyers or their firms if they have come or are likely to come before the judge; it also prohibits gifts, favors, bequests or loans from clients of lawyers or their firms when the clients’ interests have come or are likely to come before the judge.
[Commentary amended Feb. 20, 2003 (840 So. 2d 1023); Nov. 3, 2005, effective Jan. 1, 2006 (915 So. 2d 145); May 22, 2008 (983 So. 2d 550); June 19, 2014 (141 So. 3d 1172); July 7, 2016, effective Oct. 1, 2016 (194 So. 3d 1015); May 18, 2017, effective Jan. 1, 2017 (218 So. 3d 432).]