The Florida Supreme Court.The Florida Supreme Court.
The Florida Supreme Court.

St. Johns County judge reprimanded over election post

Published on June 20, 2024 at 3:39 pm

The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday reprimanded a St. Johns County judge for a misleading social media post during an election campaign — but said she did not violate rules by identifying herself as a “conservative.”

The Supreme Court issued the written reprimand of Judge Casey Woolsey after recommendations by the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission.

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Woolsey, who was first elected in 2022, was accused of approving a misleading social media post that suggested she had raised $100,000 from contributors when $50,000 came from a loan Woolsey made to the campaign, according to Thursday’s decision.

The Supreme Court approved a finding that the misleading information violated a judicial canon. But the Supreme Court rejected an allegation that Woolsey violated a canon by identifying herself as a “conservative” in a campaign-related voicemail.

Judicial candidates are barred from partisan political activities, but the Supreme Court said that did not prevent Woolsey from identifying herself as a conservative.

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“To describe oneself as a ‘conservative’ does not signal bias (pro or con) toward anyone or on any issue. Nor does it reasonably call into doubt the fairness of any future judicial proceeding involving the candidate,” the unanimous decision said. “In political and legal discourse, ‘conservative’ is an indeterminate word of many meanings and connotations. Even if we assume that a candidate might use the word ‘conservative’ to associate herself with certain unstated views or personal dispositions, this (Supreme) Court has already observed that ‘our judicial code does not prohibit a candidate from discussing his or her philosophical beliefs.’

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