State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 01-01
May court employees moonlight at a victim impact panel by checking attendance and collecting money?
A victim impact panel is run by a county executive agency. The panel is staffed by volunteer court employees moonlighting at the panels. They receipt money from the panels through DISCIS with the money being credited to the executive agency. The moonlighting court employees are paid out of the money generated by the victim impact panel.
CJC Canon 2(A) provides in part that judicial officers should act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. Canon 3(B)(2) provides in part that judicial officers should require their staff and court officials subject to their direction and control to observe the standards of fidelity and diligence that apply to them. Finally, Canon 4(A) provides that judicial officers may participate in activities concerning the law, the legal system and the administration of justice if in doing so they do not cast doubt on their capacity to decide impartiality any issue that may come before them.
A judicial officer may not allow court employees to moonlight at victim impact panels to which the judicial officer has ordered defendants to attend. The appearance of court employees working, even if they are voluntarily moonlighting and whether or not they are paid, at mandated victim impact panels causes the impartiality of the judiciary to be questioned because the court has ordered to defendants to pay to attend these panels and the attending defendants have no way of knowing whether court employees are functioning as such at these panels as court employees or moonlighting of their own accord.
Also see Amended Opinion 00-11.
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