State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 00-17
May a part-time municipal court judge delegate any of the duties enumerated in ARLJ 5(b)(4) through (6) and (9) to the executive or legislative branches of the municipality?
The CJC defines part-time judges as those who serve on a continuing or periodic basis, but who are permitted to devote time to another profession or occupation. The Application section of the Code provides that all part-time judges should comply with the Code except while serving as a judge with Section 3(A)(9) and at any time with various sections of Canon 5 having to do with financial and fiduciary limitations and the prohibitions against acting as an arbitrator or mediator or from accepting extrajudicial appointments.
ARLJ 5(b) sets forth the duties and authority of the presiding judge in detail including those particular provisions at subsections (4) and (6) through (9). It is the responsibility of each presiding judge to understand and discharge each of their duties under the law, including all duties enumerated under ARLJ 5(b).
The Code of Judicial Conduct does not establish any exceptions to the administrative duties and responsibilities for part-time judges. The Code and ARLJ 5 do not provide for the delegation of these duties and responsibilities to other persons. Moreover, delegation of these authorities to persons in either the legislative or executive branch of government would appear to violate the separation of powers. Therefore, a judicial officer may not delegate the duties and responsibilities set forth in ARLJ 5(b)(4) and (6) through (9) to the executive or legislative branches of the municipality. A judicial officer may delegate the performance of ministerial duties to court employees. However, it is the judicial officer’s ultimate responsibility to ensure they are performed in accordance with ARLJ 5(b).
See also Opinion 99-9.
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