§ 105.071 Candidates for judicial office; limitations on political activity.
Overview of Statute
This statute outlines what candidates for judicial office are not allowed to do with regard to political activity. Judicial candidates are not allowed to participate in partisan activities beyond being registered to vote as a member of a party and voting in that party’s primary. Further, judicial office candidates are not allowed to campaign for a particular party, publicly represent a party, endorse a candidate, make political speech, contribute to party funds, accept party contributions, solicit party contributions, accept/keep a place on a party committee, make a contribution to a person/group/organization for its endorsement, or agree to pay for all or part of an advertisement sponsored by a person/group/organization that endorses the judicial candidate. Candidates for judicial office who violate these provisions are liable for civil fines of up to $1,000.
A candidate for judicial office shall not:
A candidate for judicial office or retention therein who violates the provisions of this section is liable for a civil fine of up to $1,000 to be determined by the Florida Elections Commission.
s. 7, ch. 71-49; s. 2, ch. 72-310; s. 38, ch. 77-175; s. 633, ch. 95-147; s. 7, ch. 99-326.
- Judicial Elections
1. Definition for Contribution
(a) A gift, subscription, conveyance, deposit, loan, payment, or distribution of money or anything of value, including contributions in kind having an attributable monetary value in any form, made for the purpose of influencing the results of an election or making an electioneering communication.
(b) A transfer of funds between political committees, between electioneering communications organizations, or between any combination of these groups.
(c) The payment, by a person other than a candidate or political committee, of compensation for the personal services of another person which are rendered to a candidate or political committee without charge to the candidate or committee for such services.
(d) The transfer of funds by a campaign treasurer or deputy campaign treasurer between a primary depository and a separate interest-bearing account or certificate of deposit, and the term includes interest earned on such account or certificate.
Notwithstanding the foregoing meanings of “contribution,” the term may not be construed to include services, including, but not limited to, legal and accounting services, provided without compensation by individuals volunteering a portion or all of their time on behalf of a candidate or political committee or editorial endorsements. Fla. Stat. § 106.011(5).
2. Definition for Judicial Office
Includes the office of:
(a) Justice of the Supreme Court.
(b) Judge of a district court of appeal.
(c) Judge of a circuit court.
(d) County court judge.
A judicial office is a nonpartisan office, and a candidate for election or retention thereto is prohibited from campaigning or qualifying for such an office based on party affiliation. Fla. Stat. § 105.011(2).
3. Definition for Person
An individual or a corporation, association, firm, partnership, joint venture, joint stock company, club, organization, estate, trust, business trust, syndicate, or other combination of individuals having collective capacity. The term includes a political party, affiliated party committee, or political committee. Fla. Stat. § 106.011(14).
4. Definition for Election
Any primary election, special primary election, special election, general election, or presidential preference primary election. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(12).
5. Definition for Candidate
Any person to whom any one or more of the following applies:
Case Name: In re Angel
Citation: 867 So.2d 379
Case Summary: In re Angel held that the judge's conduct of attending/having a family member attend partisan political rallies during his election campaign and of holding himself out as a member of a partisan political party violated the spirit and the letter of 105.071, and the court elected to use a public reprimand as a sanction.
Case Name: In re Inquiry Concerning a Judge Re: Pratt
Citation: 508 So.2d 8
Case Summary: In re Inquiry Concerning a Judge re: Pratt held that the judge violated rules and statutory law by joining with two other judicial candidates in promoting and financing the mailing of sample ballots that looked a lot like the official sample ballot. The judicial sample ballots gave the impression that partisan parties had endorsed the judge's candidacy, which was against Florida law on nonpartisan elections. A public reprimand was appropriate.
Case Name: In re Kay
Citation: 508 So.2d 329
Case Summary: In re Kay had the same facts as In re Inquiry Concerning a Judge Re: Pratt, and the court determined that a public reprimand was also appropriate here, as the judge showed remorse and had no malice or deceptive intent.
Case Name: Adams v. Askew
Citation: 511 F.2d 700
Federal Circuit Court: 5th Circuit Court
Case Summary: Adams v. Askew held that the Florida statutes imposing filing fees were constitutional.
Case Name: Zeller v. The Florida Bar
Citation: 909 F.Supp. 1518
Federal District Court: Northern District of Florida
Case Summary: Zeller v. The Florida Bar held that defendants were preliminarily enjoined from enforcing the Florida Code of Judicial Conduct Canon that prohibited candidates for judicial office from making campaign expenditures, since the harm to defendants in enjoining the limitations was outweighed by the more serious harm to plaintiffs and by the public interest in protecting political speech/expression.
Case Name: Graham v. Butterworth
Citation: 5 F.3d 496
Federal Circuit Court: 11th Circuit Court
Case Summary: Graham v. Butterworth held that since the candidates' intended campaign conduct was not within the scope of 105.071, the state attorneys had no possible mechanism of enforcement, making the action moot.
Regulations & Guidance
May a Judicial Candidate Attend a Candidate Forum Hosted by the Ronald Reagan Republican Assembly to be Held at the Headquarters of the Organization’s Endorsed Partisan Candidate for the Florida House of Representatives?
May a Judicial Candidate Request that a Representative Attend a Political Party Function to Speak on behalf of the Candidate, if the Candidate is Unable to Attend and the Speaking Engagement is Otherwise in Compliance with Canon 7?
Fla. Jur. 2d Courts and Judges s 292, Nonpartisanship requirement
Lobbying, PACs, and Campaign Finance s 11:71, Overview
11/15/2013 Florida Bar News, The 18, Amendment Would Allow Joint Campaigns in Some Merit Retention Elections
3/15/2004 Florida Bar News, The 5, Judge Angel Reprimanded
9/15/2001 Florida Bar News, The 21, Judges May Not Belong to Bars that Endorse Candidates
“Judicial Elections: Canon 7, Politics, and Free Speech” 72-AUG Fla. B.J. 22
FLE Florida Bar Continuing Legal Education materials 13-1, 13. Judicial Ethics.