Washington Courts: Press Release Detail
State Supreme Court Adopts Revised Code of Judicial ConductSeptember 10, 2010
The Washington Supreme Court has adopted new and revised rules governing the conduct of state judges in the first major revision of the Washington State Code of Judicial Conduct since 1995.
The revised Code of Conduct and the Supreme Court Order can be found online at: http://www.courts.wa.gov/newsinfo/content/pdf/cjcOrder.pdf. Seven of the state’s nine justices signed the Supreme Court Order adopting the revisions. Justices Richard Sanders and Jim Johnson did not sign the order.
The Code of Judicial Conduct (CJC) addresses the conduct of judges on and off the bench, regulating judicial campaigns, competence and ethical responsibilities. The revised CJC is reorganized into four canons (overarching principles) which each contain expanded rules of conduct and commentary.
“The new revisions to the Code will serve as an important guide for judges to assure their conduct promotes public confidence in the judiciary,” said Washington Supreme Court Chief Justice Barbara Madsen of the changes. “I would like to thank the 17-member Task Force that was convened to work on this issue, along with co-chairs Judges Alan Hancock and Joel Penoyar. They struggled with many difficult issues, including the rule on recusal.”
The process for revision began in 2008 when the Court created the Supreme Court Task Force on Code of Judicial Conduct to review a new model code drafted by the American Bar Association. The Task Force included justices, judges, attorneys and citizen who met numerous times over a one-year period to formulate recommendations regarding revisions to the CJC.
The Task Force made its proposal for changes in September of 2009, after which the Supreme Court opened the recommendations for comment from judges, attorneys and the public. The comment period closed in April 2010.
This is the first time that Washington’s Code of Judicial Conduct will address the recusal of judges based on monetary contributions to campaigns. The Court declined to adopt a specific formula tied to the monetary amount of contributions for the disqualification rule, as recommended by the Task Force (Rule 2.11).
Another change the Court made from the Task Force recommendations was to reinstate in Rule 1.2 that all judges should refrain from the “appearance of impropriety” standard to promote public confidence. Originally recommended for elimination from the rule, the Court voted to retain the standard because of its importance to the integrity of the judiciary.
The CJC is the prevailing set of principles and rules guiding the conduct of state judges. It is adopted and overseen by the state Supreme Court, which is the governing body of the state judicial branch.
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CONTACT: Nan Sullins, Legal Services Manager, Administrative Office of the Courts, (360) 357-2124.
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