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Posted September 25, 2017, 5:25 pm CDT
Two Florida appeals judges acknowledge they purchased tables for a “Friends of NRA” charity fundraiser, but their titles were not supposed to be listed in the program.
The program identified Judges Clay Roberts and Kemmerly Thomas of Florida’s First District Court of Appeal as among the “sponsors and supporters” of the event, the Tampa Bay Times reports.
The event raised money for the NRA Foundation, which supports school safety, gun accident prevention and crime victim awareness, according to the article.
Florida’s Code of Judicial Conduct generally bans judges from using the prestige of their office for fundraising, but makes an exception for such activities concerning the law, the legal system and the administration of justice.
Thomas said told the Times she attended the event as a citizen and in no way did she help with fundraising. Roberts said he had told NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer that he was supposed to be listed only as “Clay Roberts” on the program.
Hammer told the newspaper she included the titles as a sign of respect, though they attended as private citizens. Neither judge saw the program in advance and neither knew the title was being used, she said.
In any event, there was no judicial violation, according to lawyer Dean Bunch, who previously participated in opinions by the Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee.
“If a judge buys a table and that‘s not known until the event, then clearly the judge is not being used to raise money, because the people at the event have already given the money,” Bunch said.
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