Saturday, December 22, 2007

This post is from March 28, 2005.

The Florida Supreme Court has issued certain Canons of Conduct for judges. These are not optional, any more than the Rules of ethics for the Bar are optional.

One of those canons states:


E. Disqualification.

(1) A judge shall disqualify himself or herself in a proceeding in which the judge's impartiality might reasonably be questioned, including but not limited to instances where:

(a) the judge has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party or a party's lawyer, or personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts concerning the proceeding;


(2) A judge should keep informed about the judge's personal and fiduciary economic interests, and make a reasonable effort to keep informed about the economic interests of the judge's spouse and minor children residing in the judge's household.

For the 2004 General Election Cycle, Judge George W. Greer, Circuit Judge, Sixth Judicial Circuit, took a donation of $250 from the law firm of Felos & Felos, P.A. (To follow the link to the source, select "2004 General Election" from the Election Year pulldown, then type in "Greer" in the Last Name field for Candidate Search, and select "Search for a List of Contributors" from the What would you like to know? field.)

George J. Felos was and is Michael Schiavo's lawyer in the case before Judge Greer.

It is not uncommon for lawyers who appear before a judge to provide campaign contributions. But with a case as high-profile as this one, with the scrutiny that attended it, reasonable questions about the sitting judge's impartiality become better known, and jeopardize the perception of judicial impartiality. The fact that there were many lawyers donating to this election campaign -- the first in which Greer had an actual race for his bench -- is irrelevant. The Canon mandates that the Judge should be aware of his personal financial affairs under the heading of avoiding the appearance of impropriety.

But remember: The judiciary is impartial. A decision made by a sitting judge is not made by a human; it is made by a superhuman arbiter, utterly impartial and not at all susceptible to even the appearance of human foibles. It is The Rule of Law, and let us all bow before it.

Or at least, let us not mention impropriety when we see it.

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