State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 01-09
May a judicial officer write a letter supporting the need for renovation or possible replacement of a tribal detention facility?
The judicial officer has been asked to write a letter of support for a new tribal detention facility and the services it provides. The current facility was damaged in the recent earthquake. The tribe is considering an extensive renovation or possible replacement of the detention facility. On occasion, the judicial officer’s court does use the tribal detention facility to house defendants who have been convicted.
CJC Canon 4(C) provides in part that a judge may make recommendations to public and private fund granting agencies and programs concerning the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice.
A judge may write a letter in support of a new tribal detention facility and the services it provides. Even though it is permissible for a judicial officer to make recommendations of the need for a new tribal detention facility, the judicial officer should confine those comments to matters about which the judicial officer has personal knowledge, such as any connection between the judicial officer’s court and the detention facility or the general need for a new detention facility to house defendants in the county.
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