It is not often that we encounter an opinion editorial that speaks so clearly to the need for impartiality on the part of Florida Judges, and of the great strides the Florida Bar has made in educating the Florida Electorate on the upcoming Judge elections.  This article from the St. Augustine Record is so well written, that we present it to you without further opinion, and without modification.

Credit where credit is due.  This article is from the St. Augustine Record, you are able to read the entire (original) article here.

Guest Column: Clarifying do’s and don’ts of judgeship

Posted: September 3, 2016 – 10:08pm | Updated: September 4, 2016 – 12:04am

This is in response to Terry Powers’ column Aug. 20 titled “A judicial quiz for potential judges.” In his column about the election of judges in Florida, Powers had the right idea — that being an informed voter is an important obligation of citizenship.

Unfortunately, Powers was misinformed on one key point.

Powers’ would like potential judges to offer their opinions on such contentious issues as abortion, the Second Amendment, same-sex marriage and the death penalty.

However, judges 7 of the Code of Judicial Conduct states that judges and candidates “shall not … with respect to … cases, controversies, or issues that are likely to come before the court, make pledges, promises, or commitments that are inconsistent with the impartial performance of the adjudicative duties of the office.”

In other words, we want jurists who will make decisions based on the facts and case law, not on the politics of the moment or even personal beliefs. The Florida Bar helps make that happen and is committed to educating Floridians about their judicial system. Resources for voters include:

■ More than 100 self-disclosure statements from county and circuit court candidates are posted at The 10-page statement provides biographical information, background on the candidate’s experience in different legal areas and even a short essay from each candidate who chose to take part.

■ The “Guide for Florida Voters,” published in English and Spanish, answers questions about Florida judges and judicial elections. The printed guide is being distributed through supervisors of elections, some tax collectors, libraries and the League of Women Voters of Florida. Civic groups also can request copies from the Bar by emailing

■ “The Vote’s in Your Court” web page ( is a go-to source for information on judicial elections. There, voters will find the “Guide for Florida Voters” plus links to important information, including bios of the three Supreme Court justices and 28 District Court of Appeal judges up for a merit retention vote.

Understand that appellate judges and justices — who would be most likely to make the final rulings on issues such as those listed by Mr. Powers — are appointed to office, not elected, though they must face a retention election every six years.

While The Florida Bar realizes that, inevitably, some judicial races, as well as some appellate merit retention elections, may not garner the visibility that they deserve, we remain committed to improving access to accurate information about the candidates .

Voting is a privilege and a responsibility.

We are dedicated to improving the administration of justice and educating the public about the judiciary. We hope you use these resources.

Harry Lee Coe IV is chair of The Florida Bar’s Judicial Administration and Evaluation Committee. Judge Michelle Sisco of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit is chair of the Bar’s Constitutional Judiciary Committee.

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