Friday, August 1, 2014

FL Supreme Court Limits Senior Judge Mediators

Twenty years ago, the Supreme Court of Florida authorized senior judges to serve as mediators in a new Code of Judicial Conduct, despite concerns about the propriety of a senior judge acting as both a mediator and an assigned senior judge. Last month, following proposed amendments published for comment that would have prohibited dual service, the court again decided to allow senior judges to continue to serve as mediators in light of significant opposition to the proposed prohibition. However, the Court chose to add new limiting provisions, such that Senior judges are now prohibited from serving as a mediator in any case in a judicial circuit where they preside as a judge. Additionally, mediation firms affiliated with judges are required to follow the same prohibitions on advertising and promotion that are imposed on judges. A potential exists that senior judges serving as paid mediators could be seen as exploiting their judicial position or lending the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of a judge or a mediation firm with which that judge may associate, or otherwise running afoul of the Code of Conduct. These amendments to the Code of Judicial Conduct, Rules for Certified and Court Appointed Mediators, Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, Rules of Judicial Administration, Rules of Juvenile Procedure, and the Florida Family Law Rules become effective on October 1, 2014 and are seen as additional safeguards to further alleviate the concern that dual service inappropriately creates an advantage in generating mediation business. See full opinion here--