State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 00-16
May a judicial officer support legislation that authorizes an individual to elect between providing a residence address or an alternate address at which the individual agrees to accept service? May a judicial officer support legislation, which would permit a retired elected official to keep a residential address contained in voting records confidential?
A judicial officer is concerned about having state driver’s licenses and identicards list the residential addresses of judicial officers. In the past, the judicial officer was able to use a post office address on the judicial officer’s driver’s license but the judicial officer has been advised by the Department of Licensing that is no longer possible.
Because of safety concerns the judicial officer is proposing that judicial officers support legislation that authorizes an individual to elect between providing a residence address or an alternate address at which the individual agrees to accept service of process.
The judicial officer also proposes judicial officers support legislation that would authorize a person to request confidentiality of his or her address found on the voters’ registration list and that the request be honored by the auditor’s office.
CJC Canon 4(A) permits judges to speak, write, lecture, teach and participate in activities concerning the law, the legal system and the administration of justice if those activities do not cast doubt on their capacity to decide impartially any issue that may come before the judge. Section (B) goes on to provide that the judge may appear at a public hearing before an executive or legislative body or official on matters concerning the law, the legal system and the administration of justice and may consult with an executive or legislative body or official, but only on matters concerning the administration of justice.
The proposed legislation as described above would permit any individual with the option of using an alternative address on a driver’s license, subject to conditions. Because it does not appear to be limited only to judicial officers, it would not be appropriate for a judicial officer to take a position on the entire legislation although it would be appropriate for a judicial officer to support those parts of the legislation pertaining to judicial officers. A judicial officer may support any legislation, which pertains only to judicial officers.
The second legislative proposal would permit a retired elected official, including a retired judge, to keep confidential a residential address contained in voting records. Again, the judicial officer could support those aspects of the legislation addressing the concerns of members of the judiciary but not the applicability of the legislation to all elected officials or individuals.
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