On June 19, 2014, the Florida Supreme Court amended the Code of Judicial Conduct and six rules of procedure relating to senior judges who also serve as mediators. To view the opinion click here.
Senior judges were first authorized to perform dual service when a new Code of Judicial Conduct was adopted in 1994. In its opinion, the Court described its ongoing concern that senior judges who serve as private mediators could potentially be seen as violating the Code, particularly as it relates to impropriety, exploitation of judicial position, and the impermissible lending of the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of others. In view of this, the Court previously published for comment amendments to the Code and rules that would have prohibited dual service.
Responding to significant opposition to the proposed prohibition, the Court decided to allow senior judges to continue to serve as mediators. To address its concerns, however, the Court chose to add two new provisions to the Code and rules:
• Senior judges are now prohibited from serving as a mediator in any case in a judicial circuit where they preside as a judge.
• The mediation firm affiliated with the judge is required to follow the same prohibitions on advertising and promotion that are imposed on the judge.
The Court characterized these amendments as two additional safeguards to further alleviate the concern that dual service inappropriately creates an advantage in generating mediation business.
These changes will become effective on October 1, 2014.