State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 00-01
May a judicial officer hear criminal and/or traffic cases for a city, within his/her district, when the mayor of that city is his/her brother?
The city has a city manager and the mayor is not involved in the day-to-day operation of the city.
CJC Canon 2(B) provides in part that judges should not allow family relationships to influence their judicial conduct or judgment. Canon 3(D)(1) provides that judges should disqualify themselves in a proceeding in which their impartiality might reasonably be questioned.
Even though a city manager form of government governs the city, the familial relationship between the judge and the mayor creates an appearance of partiality which could cause the judicial officer’s impartiality to be questioned and therefore, the judicial officer may not hear any criminal and/or traffic cases involving the city.
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